Modern games require you to keep track of a lot — the minimap, the position of teammates, your health, and of course the gameplay itself. The OmniWear Arc neckband offloads some of this information onto an untapped sensory channel: your sense of touch.
Using your phone as a second set of eyes, the Arc communicates information about what’s happening in the game using haptic feedback, enhancing your situational awareness without burdening your other senses.
Worn low around the neck, the Arc is embedded with eight haptic actuators that communicate information to the player by varying their intensity and frequency. Haptics have traditionally been used in devices like phones and game controllers to make them rumble and vibrate. But we are doing something new. The Arc uses haptics to communicate where objects are located around you, providing a deeper and more intuitive awareness of your surroundings.
Your Virtual Wingman
When paired with the OmniWear app, your phone becomes a second set of eyes for the games we support. Point your phone’s camera at the game’s minimap using the included mount, and our app uses computer vision to interpret what’s happening on the screen.
We're using this approach, rather than directly integrating with the games, to allow us to add support and test features more quickly. As a consequence, you don't need to install anything on your own PC. This approach will also allow us to support console games, since the only information we need is the pixels being shown on your screen. As time goes on, we expect developers will integrate the Arc directly into their games as well.
- Faster Reaction Time: People can react more quickly to their sense of touch than sight and sound in complex environments, so with the intuitive sense of direction the Arc provides, users can act faster when making their next move.
- Less Distraction: By offloading information from the game's visual UI to the sense of touch, attention is freed to focus on the core gameplay.
- Deeper Immersion: For developers, haptics enhances immersion to produce a richer experience and keep players in the game — seeing, hearing and feeling everything around them.
- Better Teamwork: Gamers can gain better situational awareness, including knowledge of teammate locations and health status, making them more effective in cooperative multiplayer games.
The OmniWear app supports League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with more games to come. Each new game we support will be a plug-in to the OmniWear app.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
In Counter-Strike, the Arc warns you about enemy players appearing in new locations on the radar. This frees your eyes to spend more time focused on the actual gameplay. This is especially useful if you don't happen to be looking at the radar at a crucial point or if an enemy is hidden by a smoke grenade. This makes you harder to surprise and gives you a more complete mental picture of where players are around you.
League of Legends
We also plan to integrate with League of Legends to enhance the gameplay experience. While our app can detect events like when champions enter or leave their lanes, the use of certain abilities, such as recalls, and health and mana levels, we haven't yet settled on the actual features we'll ship with. We want you - the community - to help shape the direction of our product.
Help Bring Haptics To Gaming
We are also creating a SDK and Unity plug-in. Developers can add haptics to their own applications by directly integrating the Arc. We've done this ourselves for the open-source first-person shooters Xonotic and AssaultCube. We also have been experimenting using the Arc in Project CARS for blind-spot monitoring, and we’d love to implement support in survival-horror games. Imagine truly being able to feel impending danger.
"It helped me out, tremendously." — Robert "Prod1gyx" Paz, Twitch Streamer
"It's like what surround sound could do for audio. This is just the whole next level." — Ed Baisa, User Tester
"It definitely improved my situational awareness." — Dustin Replogle, User Tester
"It's like an extra sense." — Cameron Bonholzer, User Tester
Because the Arc is lightweight and wireless, it enables numerous other applications where your sense of touch can become a means of communicating information. The Arc is ultimately a general-purpose human-machine interface! The OmniWear SDK makes it easy to add a haptic dimension to your application — from bike and motorcycle blind-spot monitoring and navigation to coordination of the movements of a team to workplace safety. The Arc can be controlled from any mobile device or computer that supports Bluetooth.
- Battery-Powered: Rechargeable via micro-USB
- Wireless: Controlled by Bluetooth
- Material: Soft and flexible, similar to wearable fitness bands
- Fit: Low around your neck, similar to where a necklace or chain would sit
- Size: One-size-fits-all with a clasp to make it easy to put on
- Spacial Resolution: Eight haptic actuators spaced around your neck provide 360 degree awareness
- Customizable: Change multiple haptic intensity settings to fit your needs
- Platforms: iOS and Android
- The OmniWear Arc Neckband
- A mount to clip your phone to your screen
- Micro-USB cable for charging (wall adapter not included)
- The OmniWear app with plug-ins for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends
The reason we’re using crowdfunding is to tap into the enthusiasm and creativity of the community to shape our product’s growth — we want to hear from you! Our backers will each get a say in the future development of the Arc, and we will stay heavily engaged with our community to vet potential concepts, test our latest features and help spread the word.
OmniWear Haptics was founded to explore how people can perceive their surroundings through their sense of touch. The company is currently being incubated by the Seattle-based Invention Science Fund.
The concept started as a way to prevent concussions in football: the idea was to provide players a tactile warning in their helmets of impending hits. Although we have not yet commercialized this original application, similar thinking led to experiments in a number of different areas, including gaming.
Our team built and tested a number of prototypes. Our first few iterations integrated haptic actuators into a cap you’d wear on your head. We started out with more than 30 individual actuators but quickly realized this was overkill.
For the next version, we integrated haptics into a lightweight skullcap, and this worked very well. In order to iterate our product as quickly as we could, we used several open source first-person shooters to simulate how haptics could work in the real world. As it turned out, haptics worked really well in gaming - so well that we decided to make a product out of it!
After conducting several user studies and demos at gaming conferences, we realized that we wanted something smaller and lower profile. After another series of experiments and iterations, we settled on the Arc — a device that sits low enough on your neck to be comfortable and unobtrusive.
This is the unit we've been testing for the last few months and will be refined into the consumer-ready product. The other images of the Arc shown on the page and in the video are an appearance model, for what the final product will look like.
As a team, we have several decades of experience in the gaming business, have designed, built and shipped numerous consumer products and have created a number of successful mobile apps. We partnered with Igor Institute in Seattle to design and build the Arc and to help guide it through manufacturing. They’ve helped take it from early hand-built prototypes, to proof-of-concept demos, to a final design that we will be manufacturing.
Have a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to help! For press inquiries, please use email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
We are building a new, innovative technology that has never been tried before. As such, there are a number of risks and challenges we’ll need to overcome in order to deliver an awesome product. That being said, we are confident we can deliver on our promises because of our strong team and commitment to OmniWear’s vision. Our prototype hardware and software are fully functional, but still need to be refined into a consumer-ready product and vetted by our beta users. Most importantly, we will strive to make our supporters a key input to this process at every step along the way and to keep them fully informed both of progress and any changes to our plan or expected delivery schedule.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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