Netflix wants to vibrate your phone during movies

netflix app
Image Credit: Netflix

Worried that your Netflix experience isn't dynamic enough? That could be set to change with a new rumble feature being tested by the massive streaming platform to hammer home the impact of big-set action scenes on your phone.

The feature, tentatively named 'Project Rumble Pak', arose from one of Netflix's Studio Hack Days, when devs attempt to innovate the streaming service in surprising new ways.

Project Rumble Pak seeks to emulate some of the rumble features seen in modern console controllers – like the DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller – which attempt to provide responsive haptic feedback based on what's happening on screen. 

But this time it's your smartphone, using the vibrations usually set off by calls and notifications to enhance your viewing experience. (We've seen a similar thing on the Sony Xperia XZ2, though it wasn't exactly a must-have feature.)

There's obviously less need for this when watching films and TV shows at home, and we don't expect to see Netflix sending out vibrating sofas anytime soon. Smartphones also weren't really designed with this function in mind, while the Nintendo Switch's HD Rumble function can recreate the feeling of moving an ice cube around a glass. 

The app would essentially just turn your phone's vibrate setting on – which we could see getting confusing if that's also how you get notified about incoming calls or messages.

But given that viewers are usually having to sacrifice a degree of visual quality to watch their favorite Netflix shows on the go with their smartphone, even that small level of immersion would be a welcome addition, for those who want it.

Life hacks

Netflix's blog post on Hack Day Spring 2019 makes it clear that a lot of the ideas won't make it to your app, even if they'll keep trying to think up fun new things for the platform: 

"The most important value of hack days is that they support a culture of innovation. We believe in this work, even if it never ships, and love to share the creativity and thought put into these ideas."

Other app functions toyed with at Netflix's last Hack Day include a neural AI that can mimic the voice of characters on Netflix shows – for fun – as well as more internally-focused features to help filmmakers find shooting locations.

Via TheNextWeb