D-BOX Technologies Motion Platform and Motion Controller

October 4, 2012

Manufacturers and installers are constantly looking to improve the home theater experience with more speakers, more pixels, bigger screens, deeper/ tighter bass, and 3D. But, let’s be honest, after you reach a certain point, the experience is really pretty similar. I’ve seen systems costing $25,000, $1,000,000, and all points between, and they all have big, gorgeous-looking images, multi-channel sound, and deliver an entertaining movie watching experience. But the thing that most of them don’t have is motion. And this is where D-BOX comes in.

Admittedly, I was not initially a big fan of D-BOX. I found the effect too aggressive, too over-the-top and instead of making movies more engrossing, it pulled me out of the experience. Surprisingly, D-BOX’s manager, Mario Thibeault, agreed with me. He admitted that manufacturers had been demonstrating the system incorrectly for years, turning the effect to 11 and choosing scenes that pounded the viewer with aggressive motion. But after a brief demo of The Empire Strikes Back at this year’s CES, I was intrigued. And when D-BOX offered me a system for review, I was prepared to be moved.

 
D-BOX’s component-sized Series IV/BD Motion Controller takes digital audio–optical or coaxial–from your Blu-ray or DVD player, examines the audio, automatically identifies the film against its internal library and sends the motion code information to the seating via a Cat cable.
The D-BOX system is two pieces; the part that attaches to your seating and the Series IV/BD Motion Controller. The component-sized Series IV/BD Motion Controller takes digital audio– optical or coaxial–from your Blu-ray or DVD player, examines the audio, automatically identifies the film against its internal library and sends the motion code information to the seating via a Cat cable. Because the motion code information is synchronized with Dolby Digital or DTS bitstream, you can’t listen to the lossless HD audio soundtracks from Blu-rays, unless you have a BD player that outputs both. The Series IV/BD Motion Controller sits on the network allowing new titles to be installed as D-BOX continually updates its library. (The system includes a 12-month subscription.) A single Series IV/BD Motion Controller can handle up to four seats, with optional D-BOX interfaces allowing as many seat connections as you want.

While D-BOX technology can be built into a variety of high-end theater seats, the motion platform works with existing seating, like a couch. I received the SRP-230 Universal Motion Platform that attaches to sofas 50-80 inches wide and supports up to 750 pounds, including occupants and couch. (It won’t work on couches with legs higher than 1.5 inches, or that are curved, wedge- or L-shaped.) Attaching the U-shaped platform to my couch took about two hours, and basically involved assembling it, sandwiching it onto my couch, and then screwing it into the couch’s frame. A shielded Cat-5 cable links the modules on one side of the couch to the other, and both sides require power. Obviously, prewiring for D-BOX would be wise.

D-BOX’s Motion Designers have coded more than 1,000 titles, so there is a high-likelihood that most current, popular movies are encoded. However, because the coding process takes hundreds of hours, they definitely focus on “blockbuster” type films, leaving most period dramas, indies, foreign films, musicals, etc. uncoded. The platform uses four powerful actuators that translate the motion code into three types of movement: pitch, roll, and heave. They are also incredibly fast, precise, and responsive and offer at least 1.5 inches of travel, meaning that the tactile sensations can very realistically emulate onscreen action.

 
D-BOX’s SRP-230 Universal Motion Platform that attaches to sofas 50-80 inches wide and supports up to 750 pounds, including occupants and couch.
With my Kaleidescape and its “Movie Scenes” feature, I raced through my collection like a kid in a candy store. And after viewing a ton of content with D-BOX, I feel that it definitely enhances the movie-watching experience. There are the films like where the motion is totally aggressive and over the top. For instance, in the finale of The Incredibles, where Dash and Violet are being smashed by the Omnidroid, you feel the couch being crushed down more aggressively with each blow. Then, in the depth charge scene from U-571, there are distinct differences between the creaks and groans and explosions placed different distances away. Then there are the subtle motions like the first train ride in The Hunger Games, where you gently jostle and sway with the motion or the beginning of Master and Commander as the boat rises and falls and pitches with the ocean. Then there is the detailed texture from the opening car chase scene in Quantum of Solace as Bond’s Aston Martin skids and slides around corners, and you can practically feel of gravel slipping under the tires. And during the Mini Cooper chase in The Bourne Identity you feel every bump, skid, and slide. Because the added motion feedback allows you to still experience all of the explosions, crashes, and bombastic action without cranking your system to reference volumes, I think D-BOX would be terrific for apartment owners or late, low-level viewing.

Ultimately, D-BOX helps movie lovers to rediscover their collections and view favorite films with an added dimension, experiencing them like never before. From a demo standpoint, you will definitely deliver something clients have likely never even imagined experiencing. If you’re looking to raise your showroom or clients’ systems to the next level, then D-BOX is where you need to invest.

888.442.3269
www.d-box.com

Kudos

Creates a truly immersive movie watching experience with tactile true motion feedback unavailable from any other technology

Concerns

Pricey, and allows highres audio listening only with the right BD player, and there is a likelihood of spilling your martini during certain scenes

Product Specs

Series IV/BD Motion Controller:

• Four Kinelink ports allow connecting four motion seats/platforms; can be expanded with optional D-BOX accessories
• Coaxial and Optical digital inputs with loop-thru outputs; allow subwoofer/ LFE input/output for use with music or non-motion coded titles
• Ethernet port for updating motion code library; 12-month subscription included

SRP-230 Universal Motion Platform:

• Fastens to existing couch/ sofa from 50-80 inches in width
• Supports up to 750-pounds total
• Requires shielded Cat-5 wire connection from Series IV/BD Motion Controller, and link from one side of platform to other; both sides require power connection

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