Friday, December 29, 2006

Whoosh, There It Is! Philips Rolls Out amBX Fans, Speakers, Lights

Whoosh! What was that? Never mind: It's just your PC blowing in your face. Huh?

Just when you thought game hardware makers were getting close to the ultimate immersive experience with seat shakers and ultra-high-resolution graphics, Royal Philips Electronics adds another element to the sensory overload: Wind.

The new amBX peripherals from Philips includes a wrist rest that rumbles, speakers with lights that change in response to colors on your monitor and a set of small, variable-speed fans (below) that attempt to duplicate the weather conditions in the game you're playing.

The combo, when tested, was surprisingly enjoyable. As my character leaned into a stiff breeze, the fans blew hard in my face, forcing me to squint a little. It certainly made me feel a little more connected to the on-screen action. According to Philips, these amBX peripherals work seamlessly with games which include amBX code. With this code the games can control the speed of the amBX fans as well as the color and intensity of the lights. For example, if a large fire bursts out in your game, the amBX lights might turn bright yellow and start to flicker.

A complete amBX kit includes two satellite lights, two speakers with lights, a subwoofer, two fans, a wrist rumbler and a control unit. The control unit also comes with "wall washer" lights.

The first amBX-enhanced title available is Broken Sword: The Angel of Death from THQ Inc., but more titles will be announced soon, according to Philips.

What's next? Water pistols? Don't laugh. While Philips representatives said that amBX could support unique peripherals like water sprayers and smell generators, no such accessories are currently on the drawing board.

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