Interview: Philips amBX, your own holodeck?

TECH What other future peripherals can you envision? We've heard rumours of smell-o-vision...

DAVID The hardest thing about smell-o-vision isn't creating smells, that's just a case of having a small dispenser and a variety of cartridges that can be fired off by an amBX script. It's actually clearing the air of them afterwards - you don't want them hanging around and mixing. Maybe we could use the fans to do that, I don't know...

TECH You've been working with the guys from Introversion to put amBX effects into Defcon . They're pretty creative thinkers, have they come up with any good ideas?

DAVID They've been very excited about it. And they look at it in a whole different way. At first it was all about trying to create an emotion and a mood behind Defcon, but they have some very interesting ideas for the future too.

TECH Can you tell us anything about the work you've done putting amBX into rFactor ?

DAVIDAt CES we worked together with Intel and ISI to put amBX into their Formula One simulators. As a project, that was very interesting, because we were working on a show installation, as well as integrating it into the release for home PCs too.

TECH Is amBX compatible with any of the existing 'immersion' peripherals - like the rumbling game chairs that are already available? Or is it something that has to be built into the hardware?

DAVID Something we do quite a lot of for show installations is to build amBX interfaces onto existing professional devices, and it's a very simple process to add an amBX interface to an existing peripheral. So one of the ways the amBX range is likely to evolve is by taking existing devices and adding that amBX capability. We'd be very interested in talking to any partner or third party who'd like to become a licensee.

TECH How have the professional gaming community taken to amBX. Presumably they're not that interested in anything that distracts from the game?

DAVID Actually a number of the pro-gamers we've spoken to have found it quite exciting. There's still some questions as to whether you want to be seen as using something that's outside the normal competitive arena, but I think that as it becomes a more normal part of gaming it will become part of that competitive element as well.

TECH Are there any other games that are amBX enabled you're ready to announce yet?

DAVID Well, we've just announced rFactor, and of course there's Supreme Commander from THQ coming out in the next couple of months. But we're in discussion with a lot of other developers. The release schedules are set by them and their publishers, though, so the announcements will be in line with that.