Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and the Gear VR are certainly bringing an entirely new level of visual immersion to the world of gaming and beyond, but relatively little has been done so far in terms of auditory immersion. While it’s true that Oculus’ latest prototype is adding positional audio to the equation, the visual side of things is unquestionably getting the lion’s share of focus from VR developers, so one does feel there may be room for more dramatic improvements in the audio domain.
Using a patented "4D sound" technology, Ceekars 4D headphones try to take the idea of surround sound systems further than ever before to make sounds feel like an integral and dynamic part of the environment. For instance, say their creators, Ceekars let gamers experience sound differently depending on where they are in the environment, with noise becoming louder and clearer as they move toward their source or softer if it’s coming from behind a wall or a closed door.
Another noteworthy feature is the use of haptic feedback inside the headphones’ headband. Here, an embedded actuator applies motions, pressures and vibrations based on sound intensity and range, for yet another level of immersion. The idea here is that you can now hear and feel the rumble of a passing train or feel the vibration as a rocket takes off from the ground (or tries to land, for that matter).
The headphones come with one pair of Google-inspired budget VR goggles with a frame that, just like in Google’s case, appears to be made out of cardboard. Along with them is also an ergonomic, one-handed remote controller designed to make it easier to move about in your virtual reality worlds without the need to worry about tangling cords.
Although the Ceekars seem to be mainly aimed at virtual reality, the sound and haptic feedback technology could also enhance music and video viewing in new and interesting ways.
The Ceekars come in two versions – a "PC version" for stationary use with a 2-m (6.6-ft) cable, standard 3.5-mm jack and USB charging; or a "mobile version" with a micro-USB plug, a Bluetooth connection with a 20-meter (66-ft) range and a rechargeable battery for up to six hours of use at a time. Both models include a detachable omnidirectional microphone.
Early-bird Ceekars 4Ds are available for a pledge of US$150 (for the wired version) or $199 (for the Bluetooth version), which are set to be delivered by July, assuming they reach production. In both cases, the price also includes the detachable microphone, the VR remote and the budget VR headset (which you can get on its own for $25). At the time of writing, the Ceekars 4D Indiegogo campaign – which has only just started – has raised around $10,000 out of its $75,000 funding goal.
You can watch users’ reactions to the headphones in the video below.