The Woojer sounds like a stupid gimmick, and it arrives with a sales pitch we've heard before.
The product itself is a small box that plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack of any device, and then you connect your headphones to the Woojer. The hardware works with any device that outputs audio, from your phone to your 3DS.
You can attach the box to your clothing using the included — and surprisingly strong — magnetic clip. I found that it works best when placed directly in the middle of my chest, and it had the secondary effect of making me feel a tiny bit like Iron Man. This is one of their promotional images showing one way to wear the device.
Getting things set up is a goofy experience. I connected the device to the audio jack on the bottom of the PlayStation 4 controller, and then connected my headphones to the Woojer. Then you have to remove the back of the magnetic clip and snake it up the inside of your shirt before connecting it to the hardware on the outside.
The 2.5 ounce device may also make your T-shirt sag a bit, so it takes a few seconds of adjusting to get things comfortable. You'll get around 3 hours out of each charge of the internal battery.
And then it rumbles. That's it. When a bass signal is sent through the Woojer it converts the sound into a deep rumbling effect.
One of the strengths of the device is how it knows to ignore treble and even light bass in favor of the deeper sounds of your game or music. You won't feel anything when a character talks to you, but you'll know when you fire your gun or you're in the middle of an explosion.
How does it feel?
The effect is similar to the feeling in your chest when you're watching a good fireworks display, or when you're sitting in a revving car. It's a tiny device, but it fools your body into thinking something big is happening around it.
The combination of the rumbling in the controller, the Woojer, and the sound blasting from the headphones was impressive; it gives you a sense of being close to the firefights. It was interesting to "feel" the difference between the rapid "patpatpat" of submachine guns and the "WHOOM" of a shotgun blast. The deep "THUD" of the most powerful explosive weapons became much more satisfying.
It's definitely cool, and it's something I'm going to use when playing action games moving forward. The problem is that it requires a 3.5mm connection to work, and my computer headphones are all either wireless or USB; using the device on my gaming PC would require a major change to my setup, and I doubt I'm alone in this fact.
The Woojer is a neat device, and fans of first-person shooters or even racing games will likely get a ton of us out of it, but the $100 asking price may be a hard sell for the mass market. I paid for my unit by backing the Kickstarter with my personal funds before I worked for Polygon.
Sound-based haptic feedback always sounds like bullshit, we've all seen those goofy chairs with speakers or other "thumping" peripherals, but the Woojer is able to give you subtle, changing effects based on an effective bass threshold. In other words, it works.