A silent, wearable woofer. That's the claim Woojer is making about its… er… Woojer.
Weird indie Kickstarter projects really do have a lot to answer for...
The Woojer truly is a bizarre little device, designed to translate sound into feeling with the idea of immersing you more deeply into the music you're listening to, game you're playing, or movie you're watching.
But how is it meant to do this?
By sitting in the middle of your chest, or just above your bottom, vibrating at different levels depending on the bass notes being pumped out of your system.
Using a 3.5mm jack, you plug the Woojer into your PC and then your headset (or speakers) into a second 3.5mm output on the wee device. The Woojer then picks up the sound passing through it and vibrates.
With its placement on either your breastplate or at the base of your spine, the Woojer is meant to translate the bass-picked rumbling throughout your body to fool your brain into believing the effect was all-encompassing.
And bless it, the Woojer certainly does try.
It's simple to use – just charge it up, wire it in and play your games. There are no drivers to install as it translates the vibes in the hardware itself, leaving you to just strap it to wherever feels most comfortable and enjoy the rumbles.
We suspect there may be a few 'other' uses for it, but our innocent minds can't think what they might be (speak for yourself - Ed).
As far as it goes the effect really isn't bad. We had to max it out for gaming – the device has three levels of intensity – and had to flip it around so the main bulk of the Woojer was pressed against flesh rather than the clip side.
Set up like this the Woojer simulated the background rumble of an intense Battlefield 4 war zone rather impressively. It was less impressive when it was trying to simulate things actually happening to your character – the haptic punch from being shot didn't translate particularly well at all.
Things were a little more intense switching tack and jumping into our Cobra Mk III in Elite: Dangerous. The almost constant rumble of our craft's engines, the docking clamps shifting it about and the hit of leaping into hyperspace really came through the Woojer's tactile vibrations.
All about that bass
But did it enhance our experience? Did it feel more immersive?
In a fairly miniscule way, yes. But at the same time it's a lot of effort and expense for the relatively minor difference it will make to your gaming experience.
Having ever more wires trailing around your desktop doesn't help either, especially given the 3.5mm lead connecting the device is just 1m long and we've already got the TrackIR's extra cabling on our headset when playing Elite.
In truth we've seen few gaming vibration devices ever convincingly add anything to our games. Rumble pads, ButtKickers or compressed air-powered vests have all failed to impress.
The only haptic response that's ever genuinely added anything has been from force feedback steering wheels actually delivering important information, via the steering, about what your vehicle's wheels are doing and the terrain over which they're traversing. That's information you couldn't get any other way and can totally change the way you play driving games.
The Woojer though isn't going to bring anything new to whatever you do with your PC.
The little device is certainly simple to setup, requiring no actual software interface to translate a game's audio into tactile feedback.
And when it comes to background audio, such as the ever-present rattle of nearby war in Battlefield 4 or the hum of a deep space craft in Elite: Dangerous, it does add a certain presence to your experience.
The Woojer doesn't actually deliver anything integral to the experience. And when you've got to cope with laying extra cable trails across your desktop you need some tangible benefit to offset that negative.
And then there's the charging. With a three-hour battery life you can bet there'll be times where you'll actually bother to wire yourself into the little silent sub-woofer only to find it a light on the necessary juice.
It does do what it says it will, but is that anything we'd actually want to pay for or would bother to make the effort of attaching to ourselves whenever we wanted to play a game?
Woojer? No, we wouldn't.