If you’ve ever thought that the only thing stopping you from truly immersing yourself in blowing demons’ limbs off in Doom was the feeling of a fiery blast of heat from the muzzle of your shotgun, then CES 2018 has the gadget for you.
The Vortx from Whirlwind FX looks like a desktop speaker for your computer, but is actually a ‘4D’ immersive gaming accessory. It analyzes the game you’re playing, or video you’re watching, and fires up a variable-temperature fan to blow corresponding heats at you, matching the on-screen intensity.
So, play a shooter and you’d feel the explosive blast of a hand grenade going off by your side, while you’d get an icy chill if you were watching ’80s Antarctic horror movie The Thing. Or Disney’s Arctic horror movie, Frozen.
Whirlwind FX claims the Vortx will work with basically any PC game you throw at it, using a software plug-in and object recognition algorithms to create physical stimulus that matches gameplay. Developers won’t have to do anything special to get it to work in other words – a key point that might allow the Vortx to outlive novelty status.
It’s not the first device of its kind – as far back as over a decade ago Philips was experimenting with the amBX system, which integrated with your games to illuminate your room, blow air at your face and even rumble your desk.
Still, with virtual reality experiences like The Void proving that a mixture of real-world stimuli and digital landscapes can work together to great effect, the Vortx may prove a really interesting addition to immersive virtual reality experiences. The recent rise in VR may mean it’s the perfect time for something like the Vortx to exist.
Launching later this year, the Vortx is available for pre-order now for $119.99 (about £90, or AU$150).