KOR-FX Vest Will Let You Feel Your Games (And Other Media, Too)
Until someone manages to develop working holodeck technology (I've still got my fingers crossed that such a thing may be invented in my lifetime), virtual reality enthusiasts like myself are going to have to rely on somewhat less elegant technology. VR headsets, omnidirectional treadmills, and haptic feedback suits are all going to have to suffice for now.
Not that such technology is necessarily a bad thing- it's kinda awesome in its own way. I mean, ten years ago, who'd have thought we'd have bodysuits designed to deliver context-sensitive gameplay feedback? Not many, I'll wager.
The invention I bring you fine folks today is one such suit. It's called the KOR-FX, and it uses 4DFX technology to transform in-game audio into pinpointed haptic feedback. Admittedly, it's not the first such product of its kind. I've previewed others before. What exactly makes this one so unique? What makes it different from its kin?
Well...for one, it's plug-and-play. KOR-FX makes use of proprietary 4DFX technology which translates in-game audio directly into physical feedback. Assuming it works as advertised, this means that KOR-FX can be used on virtually any gaming platform with minimal fuss. That's not the only function of the software, either.
Interestingly enough, because of 4DFX, KOR-FX is capable of translating more than just in-game sound. Have you ever wanted to feel your music? To actually feel the rumbling explosions on-screen in an action film? To feel the engines of the cars in NASCAR or the rumbling of the earth in a disaster film?
Assuming the technology works as intended, that's actually pretty cool - even more so when you consider that KOR-FX is a little bit more than a glorified rumble pack. Although it's not entirely clear how the whole rig works - the product invormation page talks about "acousto-haptic technology" and "special transducers" - the idea seems to be that it'll translate the audio based on whatever direction it 'sounds' like it's coming from. Plus, you can customize how much feedback you receive (or how little).
With that in mind, I'd be rather curious to see how dubstep 'feels,' or metal.
Of course, I do have my doubts about the KOR-FX. For one, it looks a little small for a haptic suit; I'm not terribly certain how well it'll serve any users looking for full immersion. Not only that, the plug-and-play feature could end up being a bit of a weakness compared to anything that requires custom software. Such suits can offer a great degree of functionality (and hence immersion) even if they're usable with a smaller range of titles.
Then again, KOR-FX is going to start shipping Dev Kits soon, so such software might well become commonplace, eliminating that weakness. It's still a bit too early in the development phase to tell, one way or another.
KOR-FX doesn't yet have a solid release date or price (the product information page says it's going to go live sometime in 2014), but anyone interested in pre-ordering can sign up for the mailing list to keep themselves informed on the product's availability.