The power of sound can be felt in your chest, not your ears. That deep “thump” of fireworks seen from a distance, or the rumble of the bass during a concert is something that runs through your body, and is a powerful reminder that something is happening. If you feel a sound in your chest, your entire body knows it.
That’s the idea behind the Woojer Strap, an iteration of the company’s last Kickstarter-funded haptic device that clips onto your clothing to provide that sense of feeling with the bass of your games and movies.
The official branding is simply “Strap,” but that’s a horrible name and I can’t take myself seriously writing about something that’s just called “Strap,” so I’m going to try to ignore that aspect of the device. Let’s go with “The Strap” from here on out.
The Strap is a much more polished device in terms of presentation, but it provides the same effects ... with some of the same downsides.
The Strap is easy to adjust and wear, and the volume of your audio as well as the intensity of the haptics are all controlled through a simple interface on the front of the unit. This is a much more impressive looking piece of hardware than the original, and takes much less time and effort to put on and take off.
The draw is the emotional connection you get from games when you can feel the bass in your chest and back. The hardware peels off the higher-frequency sounds and finds a smart place to put the barrier between sounds you hear, and those you feel.
After you connect the Strap to your console or PC through one audio cable and connect your headphones to the Strap so you can hear what’s going on, lower-frequency sounds in a certain range will make the front and back pieces rumble against your body.
It sounds goofy on paper, and you’ll certainly look a bit goofy while wearing it, but the sounds that make you feel something are the sounds that often mean something important is going on.
I could feel the power of my bow and arrow in Warframe through my chest. The faraway thuds of explosions from the red zones in PUBG turned into vibrations that connected me to what was going on in the world. I jumped when my quiet sneaking was interrupted by a shotgun blast from an unnoticed player near me, and that jump was amplified due to feeling it in my body at the same moment I heard it.
I felt uncomfortably locked to my computer since you’ll need two audio cables for everything to work, and it’s easy to forget you’re wearing the hardware when you get up before remembering you’re tethered to your system, although there’s also Bluetooth support if the source of your sound supports it.
Just be aware that you’re literally connecting yourself physically to your PC or console through at least one cable when wearing the Strap, and it’s harder to remember to remove than your headphones.
But the addition of this kind of haptics to your gaming experience adds much more than I expected, even though I was a fan of the original hardware.
It’s something you have to try during an intense gaming session to really understand, and I felt like all of my responses to the games I played while wearing the Strap were heightened. Your body drops into fight or flight mode when you hear something loud enough to feel it in your chest, and providing that kind of primal reaction is the goal of good haptics.
Be aware that it’s connected to the game itself, just the audio. So you’re not getting any positional information through the haptics; you can’t tell if you’re being shot in the front or the back. But every gunshot, explosion or roar of something nearby will make you very aware of where your attention should be in the game.
The hardware runs for about eight hours on a three-hour charge, and comes complete with all the cables you need. Every audio source you’re already using is compatible with it, as long as you can connect via Bluetooth or a standard audio cable. This sort of thing isn’t cheap, but it adds much more to your games than you may expect.