Game Bushido was on scene at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2011 where Immerz was demonstrating its KOR-fx peripheral. We interviewed Jared Balter, Product Manager at Immerz, and gave the KOR-fx a whirl.
Apologies if I’m a bit hard to understand in that video. I can take the blame for my stupid accent, but the area was also very noisy, given the immense amount of people at the event.
The KOR-fx is essentially a pair of quiet speakers placed on your chest that uses “Kinetic Omni-directional Resonance” to turn your chest into a subwoofer. As such and unlike traditional rumble-equipped game controllers and accessories, it actually makes it feel like your body itself is vibrating. It uses a standard 3.5 millimeter audio jack and features a slot to accommodate headphones. While it’ll work with anything that can output audio and accepts a headphone connection, including music players, the device is clearly more tailored to adding vibrations to movies (I was given a demonstration with the first Iron-Man movie) and making games more immersive.
As I experienced while trying out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with it equipped, getting shot becomes much more immersive when you feel those vibrations in your chest (that is, minus the excruciating pain and danger of, y’know, dying). There’s that word again, “immersive”. That is what the KOR-fx is all about and it’s no wonder that its maker calls itself Immerz. Better yet, while prototype I tried only featured two speakers, I was told the final version would house a third one placed on the back and able to, for example, convey the impression that the player is getting attacked from behind or even be used as a tool of sorts to let the player know that something (like a grenade) is going on behind them.
The upsides: It’s light, comfortable, has no delay, doesn’t hurt one bit and is compatible with virtually everything. The downside: As I found out when watching Iron-Man and confirmed when I pulled my Nintendo 3DS out and tried the KOR-fx with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, it converts any sound it hears into different levels of vibrations, including music. That can be an issue because loud music doesn’t necessarily mean that something should be felt. On the other hand, it’s able to pick up on very low frequency sounds that can be output by machines but not heard by humans, which can then be used as some kind of “vibration track”. It’s up to developers if they decide to add that “track” to their products, and whether or not they do will likely depend on reception of the KOR-fx.
Pricing is pretty steep at 189.99 Canadian Dollars. It is universal however and, short of full-body virtual reality suits finally being perfected (or actually taking hits from other players, a practice which Game Bushido does not recommend), is the closest thing to actually being in the action. Immerz’s KOR-fx will be released this November to coincide with Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 and will, at least initially, only be available through Play N Trade stores.
Many thanks to Ron Abel from Play N Trade and Jared Balter from Immerz for their time and opportunity!