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PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Philips amBX: For Ambient Gaming 91

JamesO writes "Philips has announced amBX, a technology which is said to extend the gaming experience out into the real world. amBX, developed by the Surrey based Philips amBX Group, is a technology that will take gamers a step closer to a full sensory experience, with amBX enabled games providing gamers with the ability to use light, colour, sound, heat and airflow in the real world during gameplay. The technology uses a scripting language to enable games to send signals to compatible hardware such as lights, fans, heaters, and even furniture. This means that in a game the lights in your room will match up to the environment you are gaming in. E.g. Green for jungle and blue for the ocean. Strobes of while light could simulate a lightning storm and a burst of air from a fan could make huge jumps feel more realistic." Finally, my master goal of a game called "Bacon Fryer" can be brought to the level I've always: wafts of pork smell in the air, grease burns on your hands for bad flipping. And just wait until you have to pour the grease out of the pan!
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Philips amBX: For Ambient Gaming

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  • Re: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirber ( 891722 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:41AM (#13968870)
    It could also apply to movies :D
    • Re: (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:44AM (#13968882)
      Philips already make a television that uses "Ambiant" technology. It has side-lights that glow to match the dominant colour on the screen at that moment. They're currently advertising it (Here in the UK at least). It looks pretty good, but then I've not yet seen one demoed in real life, so take that with a pinch of salt.
      • Here in Holland as well. I do have my doubts about any added value if any.
      • by harryk ( 17509 )
        They have one being demoed at the local Best Buy (brick & morta electronics retailer) ... its neat... and while its hard to tell if its worth it (due to the excess bright lighting throughout the store) it would be neat to see more immersive technologies emerge ;)

        But seriously... mood lighting (wether in color or 'white') ... is something that has always assisted me in getting into the game or film, same applies to sound...

        my 2 cents.
      • I for one, have no doubts about the added value.

        Basically, a few LEDs and some analog electronics will lead to a bill of material of roughly $10 for the Ambilight feature.

        The TV is sold for quite a bit more than $10 over the one without the funky LEDs.

        I for one, welcome our ambient (and rich) overlords from The Netherlands...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Artifakt ( 700173 )
        You may notice that the TV commercials for this product all show it being used on a matte white painted wall. If you'll give me my claim that a lot of pro-high tech early adopters who like 'cool-looking' TV devices that show themselves off, rather than finding them intrusive, are also just the sort to have really decorated their favorite viewing area, how many people right now, that pass all the other tests to become customers, are thinking it won't work as well with their paint or wallpaper?
    • by altoz ( 653655 )
      It could also apply to movies :D

      Yes, that's exactly what I want, Gallagher, the movie.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SillySnake ( 727102 )
      As well as to the Hot Coffee Mod :) Though I'm not sure most slashdot'ers would know how to play..
    • Hey, I've already got something like that! You see, my wife and I were watching the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy last night. When the movie got to the point where they activated the vortex, all the stuff on my desk suddenly moved as if the vortex were real! Let me tell you, that's a very frightening experience when it suddenly seems like your living room is going to get sucked into a make believe portal. Your head keeps telling you it can't be real, but your instincts tell you to grab ahold of something
    • Heat, specifically. If you have a heater running, due to movie or game content, that's gonna cost you in utility bills. Take Diablo II, for example, with pools of fire all around. How much heat is the device going to have to put out to match that?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why spend the money? I can already get this experience for Doom 3 with the flick of a single switch.
    • But, wouldnt it be cool to have the whole room smell like a rotten zombie?
      I really wish this thing had smell-o-rama. You could both feel and smell the zomies breath in you neck.
      • No way!

        If there is one thing that I DON'T want on my PC or TV, it is a smelling device. Can you imagine playing an online game and your room is saturated with the smell of geeks who last showered 2 weeks ago? Hell no, that's nasty!

        • Can you imagine playing an online game and your room is saturated with the smell of geeks who last showered 2 weeks ago?

          Well, it's not like these geeks look like geeks when you encounter them on WoW. So don't expect the device to transmit your opponents' actual smell.
          And that smelling device might help you to fight the geek-smell in your basement...
    • I'm not sure why spending the money is important...for roughly the same price or less, I could have a home theater with a gigantic screen. The light from that bounces off the walls and creates the same effect!
  • Well, it does sound very interesting and promising but I'm doubtful. I experienced something like that once on an Expo in France. They had a movie with "artificial scent": Everything smelled like bubble gum and gave me a headache. Maybe they are farther along now. But I think especially the light idea is great: Imagine thunder and flashes of light.... that will add atmosphere for sure!
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:44AM (#13968883)
    When I'm truly immersed in a game, my surroundings tend to get pushed away from my consciousness. Having glare-inducing lights or jets of hot air would likely be things I'd try to ignore rather than welcome. The same happens when reading. Never underestimate the power of imagination to create an appropriate mood. Visual and auditory cues work pretty well for that. I don't think Smell-o-Vision [retrofuture.com] is necessary for a good gaming experience.
  • ...now the lights in my room will flash too? As long as that creepy girl doesn't show up...
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:44AM (#13968886) Homepage

    ...but what happens when trojan horses and viruses take control of these peripherals? And will I be able to integrate it with web pages or email? I'm sure the pr0n industry will be all over this....

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Spouses all over the world now have more to complain about. I can hear it now ...

    "Stop flickering the damn lights!"

    I guess I need to learn how to dodge rocket launchers better.
  • The cost of stuff like fans, heaters, lights that comunicate with the computer is probably not gonna be cheap.
    Also if they all used bluetooth you could have a lot of fun with your neighbours if they had such technologoy
    • The cost of stuff like fans, heaters, lights that comunicate with the computer is probably not gonna be cheap.

      Yes, it's well known that fans, lightbulbs, and USB cables are priced out of reach of the average consumer.
  • Ah, the natural bright green glow of the deep jungle.

    What next? A piston driven pugil stick attached under your desk, so that whenever you get shot it rams you in the gut? Let's not mention the amBX enabled chair with built-in knives to make those fighting games more realistic. Playing Soul Calibre could leave you in hospital, and let's not mention Mortal Kombat!
  • This is it, im getting one of these and closing my door to the society once and for all!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:46AM (#13968901)
    "providing gamers with the ability to use light, colour, sound, heat and airflow" ...they've invented a CRT!
  • Doom 3 is dark enough without your computer turning off the lightbulb in the room too.
    • Doom 3 is dark enough without your computer turning off the lightbulb in the room too.

      Turning off the lights in the room makes the game easier to see. You probably mean setting the lightbulbs to maximum intensity.
  • Too bad you can play it for real with any stove or grill for about $10. Stupid.

    I do think that this is a neat thing though - there's a Plasma TV out on the market that has these side lights (they point to the wall the TV would hang on) which change color to match what the majority of the screen is viewing. It seems really gimmicky at first, but it's actually pretty cool. I popped in a movie that had outdoor shots on Mars, and it was neat because the whole area got the redish mars look. It helps set
    • by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:53AM (#13968955) Homepage
      Too bad you can play it for real with any stove or grill for about $10. Stupid.

      Well, you can play a remarkably realistic Grand Theft Auto simulation for the cost of a bent screwdriver - but I wouldn't recommend it. The force-feedback is a bit ... vigourous. As is the police armed response.

      1/10 :-(
      • but I wouldn't recommend it. The force-feedback is a bit ... vigourous. As is the police armed response

        Have you tried GTA: Detroit? The level designer must have turned the police off.
    • Too bad you can play it for real with any stove or grill for about $10. Stupid.

      Lordy. Is it possible for any living, sentient being not to have understood that the "frying bacon" thing was meant as:

      • a perfectly ridiculous example of how someone could use something like this; and
      • a playful example of just how hard it would be for gaming hardware to really capture the simplicity of an everyday task?

      They said irony was dead, but I didn't believe it until now. Hopefully you're quoting some incredibly lam

      • Because his comment about his video game idea was out in left field, not funny, and certainly not ironic - I don't know why you think it's dead. Maybe the irony is that after dozens of his submissions that may have been very funny, they picked the one that was very unfunny.

        You can try to pull some great hidden meaning out of it. Obviously, he was trying to be funny. I thought it was really nerdy and stupid; thus my comment. It was my opinion and this is a message board of opinions and comments.

        Ohh the
  • I was thinking this sounded like a complete rip-off of something I saw on an advert the other day, before remembering that was for a Philips product as well. Basically, coloured LEDs behind a wall-mounted flat-screen television adjusted to roughly match the average colour of what appears on the screen, thus lighting up the wall and room.

    My somewhat cheaper night-time gaming solution is to have a desk-light switched on and pointing at the wall. It means I can actually see the keyboard in dark sections! (Inse
  • Heat and airflow will be wonderful along with an HMD.

    But color, light and sound are pretty well covered with virtual reality HMDs already, considering you're fully immersed.

    I did a lot of research before buying one a few months back. Here's the current "best one" (according to various metrics and studies) based on quality/price among stereoscopy fanatics:

    http://www.emagin.com/html/consumer_products_produ ct.htm [emagin.com]

    Now all we need is smellovision!

    • I can almost guarantee you that this particular HMD is not "the best one" out there (well, maybe the "best one" a consumer can afford). I find it funny how the marketing is saying that the horizontal field-of-view (FOV) is 360 degrees (so I guess I can look behind me without turning my head now). What they are showing there is marketing-speak - with the tracking system you can "look around" 360 degrees - but they say nothing about the true FOV (horizontal *and* vertical are both important for full immersion
  • now when I'm sailing my ship in a rainstorm I get to have salty water splashed in my face, and on my keyboard and mouse, and in my computer.

    . . . then I get a great light show when my computer goes up in flames!
  • USB furniture ?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#13968947) Homepage
    How thy hell is this going to work in the consumer world ? Is there going to be a standard hardware base or will each "ambient game" require its own set of props ? The theory is mildly entertaining if one ignores the practicality issues.

    "ambFarCry requires at least two ambPalmTrees to run. Go back to the store, punkass!"

    We already have force-feedback controllers that either suck, or are poorly utilized by developers/designers. Now we're going to have a buttload of props that all suck, and take designers' attention away from the actual gameplay even more than the current orgy of ultra-excessive graphics and gee-whiz sound.
    • by Xarius ( 691264 )
      We already have force-feedback controllers that either suck,

      This is because of patents [rampancy.net]...
  • There's a dead body on the ground. The suspect is being walked towards a police van between two touch looking cops. His last words before they slam the door on the rest of his life...

    "But I thought it was all a game!"

  • this amazing new system actually sends off harmful radiation, giving you and your family the experience of what it actually must have been like at Black Mesa.
  • 3D screen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trollable ( 928694 )
    Sounds cool. However, you better be alone in the room. OTOH, I'm quite interested by the new 3D screen [sharp3d.com]. That should really enhance your game experience. And it is available today.
  • Flashbangs in CSS will never be the same...
    • Re:CSS (Score:2, Funny)

      by syrinx ( 106469 )
      Flashbangs in CSS will never be the same...

      Ah, but you can change things in CSS pretty easily:

      {flash-bang: 10px}
  • by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:16AM (#13969474)
    I once discussed designing games for blind people with a woman who did research in this. She was mainly working with sound, and used a specially-designed touchpad for the gamer to interface with the game. The games she created were fairly stupid, such as recreating sound sequences, and 'whack-a-mole' like exercises.

    I suggested that you could also use a couple of big lamps. A blind person could feel the heat of a lamp when it was switched on. I then suggested creating a Thief-like game, which would play in a world of blind people with monsters that could see infra-red. So, when you would be in the full light (you would feel the heat of the lamps), you would be invisible, but in the dark (lamps off) you would be highly visible. Combine this with 3D-sounds, and a pad which would represent walls in the environment by raised buttons (which she already had available), and IMHO you can create a challenging, story-like game for the visually-impaired.

    The point is, of course, that people who can see well enough don't need more than what they can see on a screen, but being able to address other sensory inputs may open up the world of computer games to people with certain disabilities. But the games need to be designed around the extra gadgets, and the gadgets should not only be used as an enhancement.

  • All they have to do is merge this with their super-popular CD-i platform [wikipedia.org] and it'd be the most popular console evar! Maybe Nintendo will let them make a few Zelda games for it...
  • Now we have good use for the automated sentry gun that was on /. about a month ago... CSS with realistic body hits... This is gonna rock!
  • The problem with this is, unless the only way to play the game is via this sort of immersion, or unless the immersion gives you distinct advantages against other players, the vast majority will opt out of it since it will be an added expense that hinders their multiplayer ability. However, for single player games, this could be a very interesting step forward. I imagine something like Myst being very cool with this, or that bio feedback game.

  • Games, pff.

    Sensory-enhanced sex toys!

  • The hardware/peripherials that you can afford to buy.

    I imagine the experience will be a few steps below going too Disney and watching "Honey I Shrunk the Audience"
  • by advid8 ( 929186 )
    That's really strange. I don't think I want a strobe induced seizure because a lightning storm occurs in my game.
  • Digiscents gave us iSmell [howstuffworks.com], and Color Kinetics gave us Surround Light [colorkinetics.com].

    Both of these techologies required special hooks to be used within the game code. It's worth noting that DigiScents went out of business and Color Kinetics does not seem to market Surround Light any more.

    I still have an iSmell T-shirt from the 2000 Game Developers Conference. Heh.
  • rain.
  • This thread is useless without light, colour, sound, heat and airflow.
  • I was once at a lan party at and we were playing Joint Operations and specifically the map where you're in a shipping yard by the sea. I was climbing up the ladder of a shipping crane and I kept feeling this breeze on me. I thought wow this is realistic. I was so engrosed in the game I didn't realise there was a fan behind me!
  • Wonderful, so when you have your Sim attempt to cook something without proper training, your real house can burn down too!
  • The colors Red, Green, and Blue have done wonders for Light Emitting Diodes in the past few years. Control systems for the color and brightness have been available for years now. As global production and distribution increases in the next few years, your children may be asking you what an incandescant light bulb is, because every light fixture in your house will be independently controlled over a web-interface, to produce any color or variation of colors that you desire.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.