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Games with 'emotional surround sound'

Doug Gross
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Professor makes gadget to quiet gamers
  • Physics professor says he wants gamers to feel the games they're playing
  • Technology from Immerz puts vibrations from games on players' chests
  • Its developer says he just wanted to quiet down his noisy neighborhood
  • He says the system gives players "emotional surround sound"

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- You can watch video games in 3-D. You can hear them in stereo. And you can make your characters move like you do.

Now, a physics professor wants you to be able to feel them, too.

But first, Shahriar Afshar, a visiting research professor at Rowan University in New Jersey, has a confession to make.

"I'm not a gamer myself," he said. "I'm a physics professor."

And he started considering ways to get gamers to feel video games because he thought those games were too noisy. Students were "shaking the entire neighborhood" with noise from their games, he said.

What he ended up with was Kor-FX, a system that hooks up to any electronics system that has audio outputs. The device looks like an oversize set of headphone straps. It hangs over a player's shoulders, sending vibrations into the chest cavity in sync with sounds from the game.

Afshar calls it 4-D -- or "emotional surround sound."

"It feels like 'Spidey senses,' " he said. "It's like there's stuff happening somewhere that you can't even see, but you can feel it happening."

He said the technology, which mimics how the brain responds to real stimulation, can make players feel like they're being rained on, make them feel they've lost their balance or feel G-forces from quick movements.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Scott Johnson wore a Kor-FX set, from Afshar's company, Immerz, while setting a Guinness World Record for the highest score playing drums on Guitar Hero 5.

"Every time I hit the bass drum or any of the toms on the drum set, I felt this kickback," he said. "I'd almost get blown back by the drums. It's like you're playing an acoustic drum set."

Immersion technology, Afshar said, is a logical next step in video gaming, which already is being transformed by 3-D screens and movement-based controls, such as those found on the remote-free Kinect from Microsoft.

He said it can also enhance other entertainment.

"If you're not into sappy movies, you will end up crying with this device," he said. "If you're not into action movies, you'll end up dancing and jumping up and down with it. You actually feel things that much more heightened."

The Kor-FX set is available for pre-order for $190 and is expected to ship before Christmas, according to Immerz.


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