At the rate we're going, we might well have fully-immersive virtual reality by this time next year. After all, we've been making some positively massive strides in the hardware department of late. Over the past few months, we've seen Tactical Haptics' Reactive Grip, the Oculus Rift, the Omni Treadmill, and the ARAIG Suit. That's touch, sight, and motion, respectively. Now, sound is jumping on the VR bandwagon, as well, via Able Planet's Linx Fusion Haptics Headset.
As a concept, this does admittedly sound a touch strange. The Fusion is outfitted with something known as an electroactive Polymer, developed by haptics organization ViViTouch. What this essentially means is that the headset's earpieces actually react to sound, allowing the headset to provide haptic feedback for music, movies, and in-game sound effects. What this essentially amounts to - outside of gaming - is that listeners will actually be able to feel music, picking up such elements as rhythm and bassline even at lower volumes.
There are some obvious benefits right out the door for sound designers and DJs.
Unfortunately, where gaming is concerned the technology is still in its prototype stages, and is far from perfect at the moment. In an actual gaming context, Engadget reports that the effect is 'more random than enhancing.' It's not terribly difficult to see why, either. In most video games, there's a lot going on at any given time. Without custom software coded specifically for the headset, it's fairly likely that the earpieces might pulsate to an excess, or randomly, or not at all.
Still, the device has some very promising potential applications in the world of gaming. Imagine, for example, actually being able to 'feel' the impact of a grenade's explosion in your ears, or to detect the vibrations of someone in-game knocking at the door without actually hearing it. The Linx Fusion is thus definitely a gadget to follow, even with its rather steep price tag of $399.
According to AblePlanet, it'll be launching in October. Keep your eyes peeled.