The next big thing in gaming is...a seat cushion.
But not just any cushion. This month, Comfort Research and Marvel Entertainment began selling the "Marvel's Avengers" Vybe Haptic Gaming Pad at Wal-Mart for $99. The device, at first, looks like a cushion, similar to that of an office chair, with one pad to sit on, connected to another for the back.
But unlike a normal cushion, it has rows of vibrating actuators scattered across the back portion of the pad to create small, yet noticeable sensations in different areas, depending on what's happening on the screen. (The technology, developed by Disney Research, has been in the works for some time.) If you're playing a racing game and go into a sharp right turn, for example, you feel vibrations coming from the side of the chair, recreating the feeling that you're leaning into that vibrating side of the car during the turn. If your character is sneaking through a warehouse while it rains, small vibrations of the actuators will recreate the small ambient effects, like raindrops hitting the ground. [See also: Virtual Reality Makes a Comeback with Oculus Rift Headset ]
The gaming pad connects to your device of choice — be it a computer, TV or game console — using an included audio cable. It's a simple plug-and-play process, with knobs to adjust both the sound of the built-in speakers and the intensity level of the actuators built into the pad. If you like to feel every aspect of the game, like the full roar of your car's engine in a racing game or the thrust of an attack in a fighter, crank it all the way up.
Wrapped in a fine microfiber material, the Vybe Gaming Pad has built-in surround-sound speakers, as well as easy-to-reach controls, with access to a headphone jack. It works with all gaming systems (including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U ), and is also compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices.