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Netflix tries making devices vibrate during shows

Patrick Devaney

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Netflix, like all good tech companies likes to encourage its employees to let their creative sides run wild every now and then. The online streaming company runs regular hackdays to give workers the chance to try and come up with ideas that could make it onto the app or simply grab people’s attention with their quirky ingenuity.

Netflix hackday
Image via: Netflix Tech Blog

At the latest Netflix hackathon there were a few impressive ideas but one in particular has piqued our interests. It is our favorite not least because we think it is brilliant, but also because it is the idea most likely to find its way into our everyday Netflix viewing experience.

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The Netflix Project Rumble Pak offers haptic responses in line with what you’re watching on the screen

If you’ve ever played on a PlayStation or an Xbox, you’ll know what haptic feedback is. Most phones even have it for certain functions and for quite a few generations now the iPhone has used haptic feedback to simulate the feeling you get when you press a button. Haptic feedback is exactly that, simulated movement that aids immersion. It works for phone buttons, it works for video games, and there is no good reason why it couldn’t work for movies and TV shows.

This is the type of thinking that was behind Hans van de Bruggen and Ed Barker’s entry into Netflix’s most recent hackathon, The Project Rumble Pak. The Netflix Tech Blog has this to say about the pair’s ingenious innovation, “The Project Rumble Pak hack day project explores how haptics can enhance the content you’re watching. With every explosion, sword clank, and laser blast, you get force feedback to amp up the excitement.” It seems to work too, as the video below shows.

The Rumble Pak uses Immersion Corporation technology to synchronize Netflix content with the haptic feedback responses offered by modern smartphones. The result is cool vibrations in line with the action on the screen. Would you like to see this feature coming to Netflix on your smartphone?

The other entry from the recent hackathon that we think deserves some credit is Get Out! although this isn’t a feature that we’ll see on Netflix. If you’ve ever been stuck outside the meeting room you’ve booked because the meeting before you has overrun, you’ll appreciate this. Basically, Get Out! allows you to hijack the meeting room’s sound system and play music similar to that they play at the Oscars whenever somebody’s speech is going on too long. The Oscars nod is the only real connection to Netflix this feature has but we still love it.

Will these two cool innovations from Netflix employees make it to the full version of the app? If we hear anything more about it, we’ll let you know straight away.

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