The Arc neckband by OmniWear uses eight different vibration motors to keep track of enemies. This neckband is meant to help gamers stay on top of their game (Photo from Omniwear)
Cheap, abundant sensors give rise to frivolous use in this one. Ever since Nintendo gave birth to the Power Glove in the 80s, companies have been shelling out video game accessories to further immerse players in the heart of the game. Today is no different; remember all the accessories made for the Wii? A new sensor by OmniWear could actually help players with their game rather than make them feel like they’re in. The company recently launched the Arc Neckband, a sensor you wear around your neck that helps players stay on target.
Like physical world cheats. Made with Counterstrike in mind, the band uses haptic feedback or various vibrations patterns to help players sense where the enemies are in game. These are the same vibrations found in RumblePacks used with the N64 back in the 90s. So using haptic feedback in games isn’t groundbreaking, but the Arc is meant to be an aid rather than an enhancement to surprise you. It’s equipped with eight different vibration motors around the entire band making 360 tracking possible. For example, if you feel a pulse on the left, then you better check for an enemy there. It’s meant to help players stay focused instead of tearing their eyes away from the action to check the mini map.
It sounds like a handy accessory, but don’t expect it to help you locate where the cops are in GTA. Right now the Arc is only compatible with Counter Strike and League of Legends. The company wants to expand the list of compatible games, which shouldn’t be a problem given the technology they’re using. Rather than connecting to a computer, the Arc connects to an app you download on your phone. Connect your phone to your monitor and open the app. It will then determine what’s going on in game by watching the screen. It will then buzz when enemies start to appear, yet it keeps track of which opponent is which so it’s not constantly buzzing.
The system is far from perfect. Though the buzz will let you know the general direction of an enemy, it does not tell you how close or far away they are. And if the enemy happens to be behind the door, it doesn’t let you know which one. So, it looks like you’ll need those mini maps for now on. Another concern is the buzzing sensation on your neck. It needs to be strong enough to tag enemies, but still somewhat subtle as to not startle the player. The Arc is still in the prototype stage and OmniWear says they want to add customization options to the band, letting players control the strength of the vibration for comfort.
The Arc is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. It’s reached $5,125 out of its $75,000 goal (then ccancelled. The Arc band was originally set to cost you $150 and plans to ship Fall 2017. It’s definitely a cool add-on and sounds great if you want some help spotting your enemies, but like all video peripherals it’s unnecessary. The time it takes to set up Arch band and to get use to wearing it may take a longer than it does to glance at the mini-map. Besides, when you play first person shooters long enough, you start to get at quickly glancing at the map while staying tuned to the action. For serious competitors, the Arch could be useful. For playing on the couch with your friends, maybe not.
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