Whirlwind FX Vortx Interview
Interview with Timothy Sun, Founder & CEO at Whirlwind FX
A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about the device for those that might not know much about it?
Tim: Sure, Vortx is a device that enhances your gameplay without changing the way you play. It manipulates the action and sets by bringing the elements from the digital world into the physical.
Where did the idea for the Vortx come from and how does it aim to enhance the typical users’ entertainment experience?
Tim: The idea for Vortx came from a San Francisco VR meet up. Virtual Reality was on the rise. I was in a top of Everest VR demo and the landscape of San Francisco is cold and windy. A door happens to open and a gust of air flows through while I’m in the experience. That stuck with me, as an engineer by training I wanted to bridge those elements. Since then it’s evolved to an enhancing entertainment device. I think the benefit of the Vortx helps make games more impactful. A better experience from an immersive stand point.
Could you tell us a bit about the technology behind the device in regards to how it detects sound and then produces wind accordingly?
Tim: Vortx is technically a hardware fan meter system with low latency. It provides air flow intensity and that’s all controlled by a software engine. Computer learning is used to recognize when to give that experience. Explosions are a wave of heat; rise, peak and drop of heat. That’s essentially what the Vortx gives you.
It’s an easy device to adjust, could you tell us a bit about the customization for settings and why you felt it was important to have some level of personalization present?
Tim: So everybody is different. Just like audio and speakers, sometimes we want a loud speaker, sometimes soft depending on the mood. Following this thought process of that humans are different. Warm or cold you can crank it up or down to deliver a personalized experience for you. Another fun feature is to adjust the LED. 24 LED with different color patterns and modes to adjust to liking.
What sort of experiences do you feel the Vortx really shines in? Do you have any cool gaming or movie viewing experiences with the device that were memorable?
Tim: I think some of the best experiences are with first person shooters. I’ve spent a decent amount of time with Destiny 2, Doom is great with it. Call of Duty, Battlefield are fantastic with it. There’s a Starcraft trailer that is good and a World of War for Warlords of Draenor cinematic that’s also great. We will have a trailer mode and a lot of Blizzard trailers, Warcraft, Witcher are immersive and work well with the product. One surprising genre that works well is the fighter with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite and Tekken 7 with those working well.
A big part of modern gaming is the immersion, how does the Vortx help to enhance that whether a player is enjoying VR or traditional gameplay?
Tim: It lets you live the action, pulls you in by shaping the environment around you. Feeling the dynamic change around you and enhancing that without changing how you consume it. Having it in a plug and play fashion.
With this being the initial Vortx model, do you have any ideas of where the tech could go next? I have heard it mentioned previously that a possible console version might come at some point.
Tim: We are currently gearing up to launch for beta in February. Supporting stereo, dynamic sweeping effects for two devices on either side of the monitor. Example being a flamethrower which sweeps with audio that follows it and then the wind would flow all around from side to side. Hope to support consoles down the line.
Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Tim: I think that Vortx really comes down to playing with your favorite past games and improving that immersion. The software algorithm is not tied to any game and we don’t need direct integration to support the games you’ve love and have played for years.
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