amBX, a spin out company from Philips that develops external devices and technologies to enable better physical interaction with content, said on Wednesday that it had concluded a Tools and Middleware License agreement for PlayStation 3 video game system with Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
amBX, which was conceived and developed for the PC by a UK team within Philips Research, is a technology that delivers real-world sensory experiences – using LED light emitters capable of showing up to 60 million colours, rumble, air flow or even heaters – through licensed amBX peripherals, to the virtual worlds of video games, music, movies, Internet and TV entertainment. The Tools & Middleware License agreement with SCEI will allow amBX to develop its ambient experiences technology beyond the PC market and into the worldwide game market.
Currently there are not many PC games developed with amBX technology in mind, but those games are rather popular high-profile titles, such as Crysis, Far Cry 2, Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway, Call of Duty 4, World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero 3. Additionally, there are a lot of games which feature amBX support thanks to driver for the amBX hardware. In total, the company claims that 174 titles can take advantage of amBX technology and hardware, a major improvement compared to the amBX support a little less than two years ago, when X-bit labs tried it for the first time.
While the game support is crucial for prosperity of the amBX technology, it is also important that actual peripherals were compatible with it. At this point there are only a number of amBX kits available from Philips and designed for personal computers. As a result, Sony Computer Entertainment will have to develop its own amBX-enabled devices compatible with PlayStation 3 and, what is very important, home theater systems. Moreover, considering that hardly a lot of gamers sit right in front of their 40” – 50” HDTV sets, the new amBX kits for the PS3 should be designed keeping in mind that the user is at least several meters away from the screen. As a result, it is unlikely that the PlayStation will get additional ambient effects shortly, but when it does, this will be its advantages if competing solutions do not support similar functionality.
“This is a major milestone in the development of amBX as a ubiquitous standard for entertainment sensory experiences. amBX has already proved incredibly popular and successful within the PC games, music, movies and apps markets and the Tools & Middleware License agreement with SCEI will allow us to bring amazing light, rumble, sound and air movement experiences to game users,” said Jo Cooke, chief marketing officer of amBX company.
amBX has already licensed the technology to many content developers and publishers in the gaming sector and the amBX developer program has recently launched a new, free SDK to allow many more hardware and entertainment developers to add this innovative technology to their products.