When I entered the E3 2013 Able Planet ViviTouch booth, I honestly had no idea what to expect from them. Was this some kind of so-called “true immersion” gear that made empty promises on haptic technology? Or could it deliver more? And just what the hell is 4D Sound and HD Feel technology?
Able Planet has been a leading expert in Audiology and Speech Language Sciences, lauded for their efforts in enabling people with “profound hearing loss” to distinguish hard to hear sounds. Most known is DJ Robbie Wilde, famously known as “That Deaf DJ,” who has been scratching and mixing songs for almost a decade thanks to this kind of technology. What ViviTouch promises is the use tactile feedback to offer the power of sound in your hand with HD Feel, and the power to bring the cinematic feel of movies to your ears with 4D Sound.
When it was my turn to actually try it out, I slipped on a pair of headphones connected to a tablet full of songs, raised the ViviTouch dial all the way up, and put on The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” a live-version.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell what was happening at first. But as “Hotel California” started and gradually built up, I began to not only hear the music, but actually feel the sound against my ear and the surrounding area of skin. Now understand this: this doesn’t mean that the music volume was turned up so high that the sound was blasting against my eardrums and the next several people next to me. The use of subwoofer technology added a different sensation to my ears, and as I put it to the ViviTouch representative, it not only felt like I was hearing in surround sound, but feeling in surround sound.
As I listened to the various songs on the tablet (made up of playlists of all genres), I could feel precise motions on my skin that made it seem like the instruments were within inches from me. It was a unique feeling, not always immediately noticeable, but fairly incredible with the right song.
This technology is still relatively new, and still a work in progress: but the sheer passion shown by the representatives of Able Planet proved that there were people developing this technology not just to compete with your average Beats headset, but to bring a true evolution in your listening experience. As we speak, multiple headsets are being developed for every type of enthusiast, be they a music fan, a movie fan, or even a hardcore gamer.
Expect ViviTouch technology to hit retail stores later this year, and check out the ViviTouch website for more details.