The Feelbelt adds surround haptic feedback to music, movies and games
Haptic feedback is becoming a bigger part of entertainment, with most game controllers for the past 20 years having some form of vibration built in. Now, a German startup is launching the Feelbelt, which adds the element of touch to games, music, movies, and basically any other device that outputs sound.
Like any other belt, the Feelbelt is worn around the waist. Unlike other belts though, this one is packing 10 impulse generators around the length of the wearable, which vibrate in sync with music or sound. The company says the device can reproduce frequencies from 1 Hz all the way up to 20,000 Hz – which is the upper limit of human hearing.
The sound itself can come from any wireless source over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, or via 3.5 mm headphone jack. That means it can add an extra tactile dimension to music, movies, TV, games, VR, and pretty much anything else that makes noise.
The company also says that for devices that output in surround sound, the Feelbelt can recreate that. So, for example, if you’re playing a game and there are footsteps behind you, you’ll feel vibrations against your back.
The team also suggests it could be an intuitive way to help hearing impaired people experience sound.
We haven’t tried the Feelbelt for ourselves, so we can’t vouch for how well it actually works, but we have to admit it sounds intriguing. It’s probably not going to become a standard accessory for watching movies or listening to music, but it might be a fun gimmick to try out.
Haptic feedback wearables aren’t a new idea, but the Feelbelt does seem like a more powerful and neater version than what we’ve seen previously. It has more range than most, such as the gaming-focused OmniWear Arc or the bass-only Woojer wearable woofer. Maybe the closest thing is the BodyRocks system, which has a bass-driving belt wirelessly connected to small transducers that stick to different parts of the body.
The Feelbelt has a six-hour battery life, and it recharges via USB-C. It connects to an app that lets you tweak the strength of the vibrations, and choose preset modes like music, movie or game. The company also says that it’s a one-size-fits-all affair.
The Feelbelt is now seeking funding on Kickstarter, with Super Early Bird pledges starting at €199 (about US$215). After the campaign, retail prices are expected to jump to €329 ($356). The team has already sailed past its €20,000 goal, and if all goes to plan, the Feelbelt should start shipping in September.
Check it out in action in the video below.