If you’ve ever wondered how strapping a tiny, low-powered subwoofer to your wrist might feel, it’s kind of like wearing the Basslet.
The Basslet, a product of Berlin-based startup Lofelt, delivers low-frequency, high-precision haptics to your wrist — sort of like a vibrating Apple Watch on steroids.
“Feeling the kick of the ball is really something.”
Powering the voodoo vibrations is what Lofelt calls the “LoSound” engine, a patent-pending motor that produces inaudible bass in the 10-250Hz range. Scaling it down was an engineering challenge, Lofelt founder and CEO Daniel Büttner told Digital Trends. “We had to shrink the subwoofer from a big box into a wearable.”
Like a standard subwoofer, the Basslet syncs audio from any device with a standard 3.5mm audio jack. A Bluetooth-paired “support” dongle hooks to a power source via a Micro USB cable, and serves double duty as the Basslet’s charger via a magnetic connector.
Feel the beat right on your wrist
The Basslet’s immersiveness impressed us. In a demo at the Digital Trends offices in New York, we streamed an assortment of tunes from Beyoncé’s Single Ladies to William Michael Morgan’s Cheap Cologne. The distinctive drumbeat of King of Punk Funk became all the more palpable with the Basslet strapped on tightly, while the acoustic Cheap Cologne, produced a different sensation altogether — almost like guitar strings against the skin.
But the Basslet struggled in other songs. It identified the wrong baseline in Major Lazer’s Light It Up Remix, and had difficulty distinguishing between the individual drumbeats in The Knack’s My Sharona.
That’s all to say the Basslet won’t be replacing bookshelf subwoofers anytime soon, and it’s certainly no match for the high-end sound systems you’re likely to find at a stadium or auditorium.
It’s not exactly practical, either. If you already sport a watch or fitness band, it’s a hassle to fit on your wrist. Büttner said the team is working with hardware manufacturers to embed the Basslet’s tech in future tablets and smartphones, but be warned that a tangible product is years off.
What’s next for Lofelt?
In one of Lofelt’s first ventures beyond the wearable market, it partnered with automaker Renault on a concept car dashboard that alerted drivers of navigation changes and potential collisions. Meanwhile, Teenage Engineering, a Sweden-based digital music company, is incorporating the tech into a synthesizer, and Lofelt is super excited about the project. “It’s really interesting when you add it to an instrument,” Büttner said. “It makes a huge difference. You can directly feel the instrument.”
Lofelt sees a place for the Basslet’s haptics in gaming, too — specifically virtual reality. “We’ve tested it with the [HTC] Vive virtual reality headset,” Büttner said. “It’s much more nuanced than a game controller. It’s almost like touching a speaker — you can feel the sound decaying out.” The company has experimented with genres ranging from platforms to first-person shooters, but says soccer simulator FIFA was one of the most affecting. “Feeling the kick of the ball is really something,” he said.