Once you strap a screen to your face, virtual reality goggles can make your brain think you're in a computer generated world, but what about the rest of your body?
Enter Immersit, a system for your living room that vibrates, raises and lowers your couch or chair while you're watching a movie or playing a video game in VR or on a television. The goal? To make you feel you're actually part of of the action -- and it actually works.
If you've ever encountered D-Box technology -- or "4D," as it's sometimes called at a movie theater -- it's a very similar experience. D-Box moves your seat in sync with the movie and Immersit is looking to bring that tech home.
It's a great experience for movies with a lot of action, but it'd also be fun for horror or suspenseful scenes, too. Imagine feeling a jolt when something jumps out onscreen or feeling like you're in a car weaving through traffic during a high-speed chase.
The technology has the potential to bring VR and movies in general to a new level. For years, tech companies have tried to make entertainment like TV shows, movies and video games more immersive, but they've rarely succeeded. Remember 3D TVs? How about smellovision?
But with the hype surrounding VR, and the imminent release of several high-profile sets of goggles this year from Sony, Facebook and others, Immersit has the potential to be a must-have accessory to make the virtual world feel all that much more real.
Valentin Fage, the 25-year old CEO of Immersit, said he began work on the device after watching the action movie, "The Fast and the Furious." "I thought: I was missing something," he said. That was a year ago.
The way it works is Immersit has four pads that fit under the four legs of your couch or chair -- sorry those with sectionals, you'll have to wait. These pads have patent-pending motors and parts inside (the company isn't ready to share the exact mechanics behind it) that move up and down, side to side and vibrate.
The pads can work independently, so the back of the couch can go up, while the front goes down, or they can make you tilt side to side. The system plugs into your media device or TV to sync up with whatever you're watching. The prototype I tested out at CES used a phone-powered VR headset and worked beautifully with the 360-degree race car video I watched.
For the pads to work, Immersit has to encode movies and video games to move at the right times. The company has already done this for several hundred videos and games and plans to have more than a thousand available when it launches in late 2016. Fage also plans to make Immersit work with home movies, so that if you take a GoPro skiing one weekend, you can later recreate the fun from your couch.
Immersit isn't ready to share how much the system will cost, but says the goal is to make it around the price of a high-end laptop. Expect it to be at least a few hundred dollars, or maybe more than $1,000. The French company is planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign for preorders sometime later this year.