A couple of days ago we introduced you to the Feelbelt, which could present you gaming, music and film/television even more immersively. Now I had the opportunity to do the following interview with Benjamin Heese, the founder and CEO of Sensit! (formerly known as Feelbelt).

Tobias (Game-Releases): “Please set Sensit! and you shortly before.”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “I’m Benjamin Heese, I have two small children who I’m really proud of, and I founded Sensit!, as it’s called today, almost four years ago.
Before that I worked in the banking sector, in middle management at a German commercial bank. After the birth of my first daughter, I traveled the world with my family for a long time and realized that money isn’t everything.
When I was in school I used to organize LAN parties and play games that were frowned upon at the time. Today I am fortunate to be able to benefit enormously from the passion I had at the time and to understand how this market works.
Originally, our founding idea was to make music more emotional. In 2018 I happened to meet Jens, who introduced me to a new technology. I quickly thought: “Okay, great idea. Let’s start a business.” That’s how we came together. We’ve been around for four years now and have built a team that brings the whole thing into the world. And we don’t do that badly. We started with the Feelbelt. That was our proof of concept, with all its strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to see how people react. Is there a need at all? Now we are at the point where we license and share the core technology of the haptics.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “That’s how the name change from Feelbelt to Sensit came about!?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “Exactly. Since we as a company until recently had the same name as our first product, we were often reduced to the Feelbelt – but
we can do a lot more. And we want to communicate that.
We are a haptic company that provides industrial solutions to make existing and new products haptic. Feelbelt is now part of
Sensit! . The next step is a gaming chair in cooperation with a big brand, which we equip with haptics and license our technology.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “Our topic today is how important haptics are in video games and the Metaverse. How important is technology for you personally in these areas?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “Imagine a concert: you experience it live, you hear a clear sound that you can usually even feel in your body because the basses are so intense. Now imagine that you are not experiencing the concert live, but are watching it on TV at home. Your emotions aren’t likely to run wild here because you’re breathing the same air as your favorite musicians. What is missing is the complete feeling of the concert. We lose that at home.
Humans have more senses than just seeing and hearing. The sense of touch plays a huge role in emotional perception.
We are firmly convinced that in order to make this digital world — and I don’t even want to start with the Metaverse — real, you need feeling.
Playstation did that with the controller and evolved the whole thing, which I think was a smart decision. If you think digital experiences like games, movies and music through to the end, you can’t do without haptics — if you really want to do it well.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “What other areas of application are there besides the concert experience at home? You mentioned games and films.”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “If you have VR glasses on and move around in the virtual world, you often run into digital walls or objects. In real
life, you would notice if you knocked over a vase, for example. In the VR world, you only hear and see it. In the real world, you might even be able to catch the vase before it tips over and breaks because you feel you’ve bumped into it. So you need some kind of trigger that says, “Hey, stop! There’s something in the way!”

For me personally, poker is also a good example. The game thrives on using all available senses to interpret the opponents. Who is bluffing, who is telling the truth, who is nervous and who is relaxing? Just how you get your chips onto the field says a lot about you, which can also be used to play with: do you lay them down gently or do you aggressively slam them down on the table?
These are all emotions that are perceived , among other things, by feeling .
Poker with VR glasses is pretty cool. If you can also see the emotions on their faces as the game progresses, you’re pretty darn close to playing real poker with friends at home.

Tobias (Game-Releases): “Since you appeal to more and more senses: Do you plan to integrate more at some point, e.g. B. with smells or lights for the eyes?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “I think our strength actually lies in building haptics. There are other experts for smells. It makes sense to bring this together, but it doesn’t make sense to expand our business model with it.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “The vibrations will probably be very useful for people who are hearing impaired or who have limited vision. Do you take that into account during development?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “For example, Fortnite has come a long way when it comes to including people with certain disabilities. The Feelbelt offers a
(further) solution for people with hearing impairments.
We are currently working with a doctor from the NHS in the UK who is looking into getting children who were born deaf to talk (faster). Because this is a fact that many do not have on their screens:

Those who cannot hear from birth find it very difficult to learn language, as we
process and train it primarily through our hearing. There is a big difference here compared to people who used to be able to hear and then lost their hearing as a result of an accident, for example.
A lot is happening in the accessibility area with game developers and we are happy to do our part to ensure that games are equally accessible for everyone.
At a recent inclusive concert in Potsdam, which was also accompanied by sign language, we provided feelbelts for the deaf audience to make the orchestra tangible. The feedback from the audience was amazing. Here we noticed very clearly that, in addition to the increased entertainment factor, we can make a really valuable impact with our technology.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “I’ve tested the Feelbelt before and thought it felt
great. Are there plans to develop this further and if so: what else is possible?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “We will make the algorithm that we use to make all frequencies perceptible more sensitive. In addition, we will use other
chips with more computing power in the future to achieve even better resolution so that you can perceive even more frequencies at the same time.
In addition, we keep asking ourselves how we can manage the balancing act between high product quality and an affordable price, because we have high standards. And these come with corresponding costs. So far we have strictly avoided having our products manufactured abroad, even though that would be significantly cheaper. We still have our products manufactured in Germany and we want it to stay that way.
There are competitors on the market who offer a vest, for example. It makes total sense to me to have a product that covers large parts of the body completely. But if we were to do that, we would quickly find ourselves in a price segment that private individuals can no longer afford.
I can imagine the tendency to be a successor to the Feelbelt with a fabric cover so that it is more comfortable to wear. Such a solution would also be more sustainable.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “Some time ago I asked if the Feelbelt
could help with sports. Then I got the answer that you are still testing it. Are there
already results?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “I would say very clearly: No, you will not lose weight with the Feelbelt. Of course you will burn a few calories if the Feelbelt gives you such a good feeling when listening to music, for example, that you simply HAVE to dance.
However, where haptic feedback has been proven to help is with the release of oxytocin. This is the hormone that many know as the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. When people we like hug us, we release this hormone. It comes from touch. Oxytocin makes us feel safe or simply at ease.
People who are alone a lot usually have less oxytocin in their bodies and we can counteract that with haptics.
Here’s another tangible example: Many find it pleasant to pet a cat. She is soft and will purr when she is comfortable. This triggers a basic human instinct and gives us a good feeling. We release oxytocin.
So haptic feedback can be used to trigger happiness hormones in the body. Other happy hormones such as endorphins or dopamine are also released during or after exercise, for example.”

Tobias (Game-Releases): “Is there an area that you are most focused on?”

Benjamin Heese (Sensit!): “Gaming is clearly the focus. Of course, we are always testing new areas of application and the numerous options simply offer this. Here we are currently examining some cases. However, the gaming area remains the focus.”

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Hi, this is Tobias. I'm currently studying and I like to spend my free time cooking and gaming. I prefer games with a good story, long-term motivation or a couch co-op mode.

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