Published on January 17th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
KOR-fx Hands-On Impressions
Since we were young, Nintendo has always told us gamers to “Play it loud!” Unfortunately, real life disagrees and we can’t always play our games as loud as we want especially when we have to deal with our lame neighbors all the time. Pumping up the bass means less grin-inducing, body flinging, explosions and more angry phone calls and police visits.
Inventor Shahriar Afshar, a physicist, knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a late night Call of Duty marathon. Living in campus housing at Rowan University, he, instead of screaming and hitting walls with a broom, came up with the idea of creating a device that could accurately recreate the feeling of a sub-woofer without setting off car alarms. Five years of development later, he revealed the KOR-fx, a device that looks like a pair of headphones but it is designed to fit over the shoulders with the speakers lying flat on the chest.
I met up with the KOR-fx team and after they told me how it worked, they let me feel it work. My first game experience with the device was in a game of Counter Strike: Source. The KOR-fx felt somewhat out of place while strapped over my shoulders but it was easy to ignore them once the countdown ended and I joined my fellow counter-terrorists armed with my pistol.
I immediately noticed that I could feel my footsteps as I ran over the wooden floor of the rustic cabin where I spawned. Jumping and landing created an even stronger vibration that I felt in my chest. After I was done hopping around like a Halo gamer I ran out the front door just as a terrorist rounded the corner. My aim was bad, but his was worse, each shot I fired from my pistol echoed in my chest until he finally dropped. I reloaded and rounded the corner in which my dear departed friend came from…and found his friend, smugly carrying a SPAS shotgun (damn shotgun noobs!) and fired. I wasn’t able to feel his ally’s bullets as they hit me just moments ago, but I felt that. The thud wasn’t painful but it was strong enough to convince me that I wouldn’t be getting up for a while.
After a few more back and forth rounds I found myself in the lower floor of my rustic cabin spawn point. I was the last on my team and there was only one left on the opposing team. I stopped and listened. He was above me on the second floor but I couldn’t just hear him walking around, I felt it as well. Every step he made thumped softly in my chest and as he headed toward the stairs leading down the vibrations faded along with the noise. I wondered if he was the jerk sporting the shotty the entire game but it didn’t matter; I felt fairly confident as I looked down the iron sights of my LMG while aiming toward the bottom of the stairs. As I felt the quick steps of a person coming down steps I held my breath, and waited.
I can admit that I was skeptical when they told me that I would be impressed after I experienced it. But I know where they’re coming from. Some people would most-likely pass the KOR-fx as nothing more than a vibrator for your chest. But it isn’t a DualShock controller; it accurately recreates the feeling of a thumping woofer without disturbing anyone else. It picks up not only the hard hits but also the lighter ones to give you better situational awareness in any game you play. You really have to experience it to believe it.
The KOR-fx will be launching sometime this Spring. I was told to expect it around March or so. It will be priced at $190 which sounds pretty hefty but it will be packaged with a pair of Bose headphones priced at around $140. The KOR-fx is being sold primarily as a gaming device but it can also easily be used with TV, music, and movies. I was able to catch a quick clip of Iron Man that was playing on an iPod and I liked the feel of the bass as everyone’s favorite billionaire gone superhero blew up tanks somewhere in “Middle East-istan.” I felt a range of sensations coming from many sources in the movie from bullets and explosions to even the subtle sensation of small bits of debris hitting the ground. The KOR-fx is an impressive little device and I would love to get more game time with it. Perhaps while wearing the Turtle Beach PX 5? Now there’s some truly immersive gaming.