Check out today's featured Invention Award winner, the KOR-fx, a device that makes you feel physically immersed in a videogame.
Shahriar S. Afshar has spent the past five years perfecting a device that pumps sound vibrations directly to your ribcage, intensifying videogame and movie experiences. But when we meet near his office, the 38-year-old first spends an hour talking physics. "The Higgs boson, the so-called God particle?" he says excitedly. "It does not exist!"
Inventor: Shahriar S. Afshar
Time: 5 years
Is It Ready Yet? 1 2 3 4 5
Turns out he's not just rambling. Many complicated diagrams later, he reveals that the KOR-fx (short for Kinetic Omnidirectional Resonance effect) is an indirect by-product of his years of work in physics. In 2005 he was living in campus housing at Rowan University, where he is a visiting professor, when he found himself unable to work because of the wall-shaking bass of the students' videogames. An inventor since his childhood in Iran, he decided to design a solution that would provide gamers with all the vibrating bass they could handle, while not disturbing anyone who isn't playing.
Then he lets me try the KOR-fx. It's about the size of a pair of headphones and sits over the shoulders like a backpack. Two transducers, which translate sound into vibrations, press gently into my chest and connect through a small box to any gaming console, PC or music player to extract the bass and other elements from the audio signal. The bass is in stereo, so you can feel the direction sounds are coming from.
We test out music, movies and games. As I listen to the sound through earphones, the T. rex's footsteps in Jurassic Park reverberate in my chest; in the game Halo 3, I can feel that I'm taking sniper fire from my right side. Overall it's like acclimating to the new cinematic 3-D: First it wows you, then it just works on your senses, pulling you deeper into the story.
Afshar says future versions of KOR-fx will create an even more immersive experience. The effect wasn't ready for my test, but he says he can generate frequencies of vibration that act on the visceral nerve system, tricking the user's brain into believing that his body is experiencing a range of phenomena. "We can induce the sensation of rain, wind, weight shift, even G-forces," he says. His company, Immerz, is in talks with several studios to add these effects to films.
For now, though, the invention will be a gaming device. Afshar plans to sell it for $190 but expects that the price won't matter once people see the results. "We have gamers who have been using it, and their kill ratios have been increasing dramatically," he says. "They don't die unnecessarily."
The dude should have invented a device to shave his unibrow.
Unibrow? I thought that was the invention.
pechuckd, you can't shave a masterpiece like that. When you have a unibrow of that caliber you have a obligation to let it be seen.
Why would you use such a good piece of gamming equiptment on a mac?
The unibrow looks like it took more effort and sculpting than the terrible excuse for a beard that he has, which looks like a thick batch of velvet taped on his chin. Wait. Thats it. He invented a new beard and disguised it as speakers!!! GENIUS!
I saw an ad for "The Phone Bone" over 20 years ago that did this and looked almost identical. This is not new or innovative. They sell transducers to attach to drummer thrones, car seats etc. to feel the bass as well as Gaming chairs with transducers built in them to "feel the sound". And you give this guy an award!!!
Close aprhys, it's the "Bone Fone". The ad was in almost every issue of Omni Magazine back in the day.
Can't believe PopSci gave this guy an award for stealing an OLD idea!
I remember bonefone it was a piece of crap. Tried this guys invention at CES and I was impressed. Watched Iron Man on an iPod, it was like I was ironman. This thing is for real. I actually asked a guy at the booth about bonefone and he said this thing is not based on bone conduction audio, it is about some brain stuff I didn't understand. Anyways I've ordered one and will leave comments again after I try it for a while.
Haha. I see a lot of comments about his facial hair on this page and I am astounded at how immature you people are when it comes to someone with some akward facial hair. Maybe it's customary in his country to do that. Maybe he just likes it that way. Maybe his wife finds it appealing and that might just be all he cares about anyways, and not about what the public thinks about it.
Besides. Unibrow or no unibrow, hes bound to end up richer than any of you. haha
I think this device is gonna be a great one. I guess I will have more fun with call of duty and bioshock!