There are inventions that appeal to ”normal” people and there are inventions that appeal to geeks, then there are inventions that embarrass normal people and put geeks into salivatory ecstasy. amBX from Philips fits squarely into the later.
Described as “A light year leap in ambient experience… that will revolutionise the game play experience and extend the gaming world out of the screen and into the real world”, what amBX really is, is a technology which changes the environment of a room in real time to match the occurrences on screen.
Light, colour, sound, heat and even airflow are at amBX’s command meaning, to once again quote from Philip’s enthusiastic press release: “Imagine the room of the future, where all electronic devices are amBX-enabled. The treacherous road to Saigon will turn your room jungle green, swimming with dolphins will splash it deep blue, 'Halo' jumps will turn your fans on full, lightning storms will strobe your white lighting, and attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion will blast on your heaters.”
Now, I don’t want to sound like a party pooper (especially given the unparalleled joy with which Philip’s PR bunnies appear to have had writing this up) but I’m not sure I want my room flashing white or jumping between 30 and minus 20 degrees. My long suffering neighbours already want to kill me for having 14 satellite speakers and three bass units in my flat as it is and amBX would probably push them to a murder wrap. Besides, I’m not sure I could take the energy bills. At a carnival or arcade, bring it on, in my own home I only want to take immersion so far…
I guess this – to my complete surprise – for once aligns me with “normal” people against the geeks and I’m uncomfortable about this as I’m not sure they’d have me. I also have concerns about software crashes. Currently I can put up with the BSOD and a reboot, but if amBX means my heating gets locked at 40 degrees and I die in a swirling room of pink flashes I’ll not be best amused.
Still, no matter what I think, amBX is coming. The standard will be introduced onto the market in May accompanied by a flurry of compatible games and devices. Expect hospitals to be busy that month, I predict head injuries to be particularly popular form of retribution.