If you are a competitive gamer, you know that every edge you can gain is worth squeezing for all its worth. If you are playing a first-person shooter, for example, any chance to expand your knowledge of the surroundings can be the difference between a win and a loss. So what if you could physically feel where enemies were? That’s what Immerz promises with KOR-FX, a high-tech, wireless vest featuring multiple sensors that produce haptic feedback.
The system is designed by Shahriar Afshar, CEO of Immerz and award winning physicist and inventor who not long ago challenged parts of Einstein’s quantum theory. It’s easy to mistake the KOR-FX as a rumble pack, but the science behind it is far more complicated. The result though, is a device that offers an immersive experience, as well as one meant to give gamers a slight advantage.
Once you plug a standard audio headset cable into the KOR-FX base unit, the software in the box then uses the audio channels to trick your brain into physically feeling what it wants you to feel, whether that be in gaming, movies, or anything else. Science!
In the case of an FPS like Call of Duty, the audio can play a huge part – just look at the massive catalog of high-end gaming headsets that offer refined audio to help you track which direction noises come from. When you are wearing the KOR-FX, those same audio cues are translated – then run through a series of algorithms most of us will never be able to understand – into the corresponding haptic feedback actuators on the vest. If you are being shot by an opponent behind and to the right of you, the vibration on your right shoulder blade will notify you. If there is just gunfire in that direction, it will also vibrate, but the effect will be weaker. If you are hit, when the screen goes red, you will feel your digital heartbeat, just like it is represented on the screen. You will also feel vibrations from walking on certain surfaces.
Although FPS games are a genre that would see an obvious advantage from this tech, the vest will offer a handful of presets for other types of games as well, including racing and more. A full list will be released later. The vest has a speaker in it that recreates a voice, telling you when the system is on, what mode it is on, and what level of intensity the feedback is set on.
The vest is being marketed as a high-end gaming peripheral, but it works with just about any media. In our demo, the movie 2012 was playing, and the scene was of a mega volcano exploding. The force of the explosion was represented through a consistent, low rumble that spiked as the intensity of the explosion intensified. The KOR-FX couldn’t make the movie less silly as Jon Cusack jumped an RV over a massive gap and outran a volcano, but the rumble added an immersive level to the experience of watching it.
The KOR-FX will work on most gaming systems without issue, as well as PCs, tablets, and more. No price has been given yet, but the vest will be available later this year.