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Tremor FX's new seating technology incorporates sound mix into seat vibrations

RedSeat Entertainment and Seating Concepts have launched new Tremor FX Kinetic Seating technology for theatres.

Tremor FX captures key elements of a movie’s sound mix and translates them into vibrations in custom-built theatre seats, offering the audience an augmented sensory experience.

The system is rooted in vibration-cancellation technology, originally used for limiting the vibration effects on operators using heavy machinery like large earth-moving equipment or train engine operators. The technology analyzed sound vibrations and specific frequencies in real time and made adjustments for them accordingly. Chief Technology Officer LeVoy Haight developed the project from its inception. “The company saw an opportunity to extend this into the theatre industry whereby you could analyse the sound that was going out through the theatre speakers and identify what the sound mixer was trying to emphasise. When we talked to theatre owners, they said,  ‘If this is something you can make work, we would be interested.’”

Inside each Tremor FX theatre seat are three actuators, two in the back and one on the bottom and a set of programmable amplifiers. Each seat also has its own power supply. The proprietary technology element that Tremor FX introduces is a set of signal processing algorithms that analyse the audio signal before feeding it into the seat. CTO Haight tells Screen, “We don’t just rumble and shake things. If someone fires a gun, you feel just the gunshot. If people are talking onscreen, you don’t feel a lot. One of our goals from the very beginning was not to make people aware of the seat. We want to take the filmmaker’s intention and make it tactile.”

Tremor FX operates independently of the theatre’s speaker configuration and can receive as many audio inputs as needed. Each seat is equipped with controllers that allow a viewer to adjust the level of the experience, including the number of sound effects “events” that are transmitted to the chair and the strength of the vibrations. Since the system analyses audio signals in real time, it has flexibility of application and can just as easily accommodate live streaming events or games, as traditional cinema viewing.

Haight says, “One of the biggest compliments we get when we first bring in groups or theatre owners to sit in the seats is ‘This does a whole lot more than I expected’, because they expect it just to rumble the seat.’ And people who have had multiple experiences with it, they go to a movie where they don’t have the seat and they say, ‘I sat through the movie and I liked it, but something was missing.”

Tremor FX will be demonstrated at CinemaCon in Las Vegas from April 23-26 and will be shipping and installing starting in June.

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