CES 2023, like past events, was full of purely conceptual designs and projects. Ideas so outlandish that it’s obvious they’ll make it past the drafting phase. Then there’s Razer’s Project Carol, an idea so simple yet executed so well that you wish it would make it to market within the year.
Dubbed the “world’s first head cushion with near-field surround sound and haptics,” it’s exactly what it sounds like. You simply hook the cushion to your gaming or office chair of choice using the adjustable straps, and then connect it to any PC using 2.4 GHz wireless.
We demoed the head cushion with F9, a movie and franchise well-known for featuring heavy artillery and explosions. The perfect movie to really see what Project Carol could do. And my first takeaway after experiencing about five minutes of it is that now we can’t watch another Fast & Furious movie without the cushion again.
The haptic feedback and surround sound combination was beyond immersive, it created a whole new depth to the movie-watching experience. You could feel every bullet exiting its chamber and entering the on-screen cars. And all the explosions were only missing the heat, as the vibrations and sounds were so well replicated.
(Image credit: Razer)
Price and availability
As of now, there’s no available pricing or regional availability for Razer Project Carol, since this is still just a concept. However, Razer has stated that it’s compatible with all gaming chairs, including its own Iskur and Enki models.
Hopefully, this project will move forward into an actual product and once it does, TechRadar will be sure to have the latest announcements and news.
(Image credit: Future)
Razer Project Carol looks like any other gaming chair cushion, with the addition of two ‘flaps’ that contain the surround sound speakers. The material is soft and the cushioning itself is quite comfortable, with the adjustable straps able to cater to any gaming chair and some office chairs. Normally a simple and unassuming design would be boring at the very least, but considering that this is a gaming chair cushion filled with impressive hardware, it’s impressive that so much is packed into such a normal-sized product.
Thanks to the completely wireless setup, there are no extra wires to connect, no audio receivers or control boxes, and no software to install. You just insert the USB dongle into your PC port and, according to Razer it’s natively supported on PC, there shouldn’t be any compatibility issues either.
(Image credit: Future)
Razer Project Carol uses an easy-to-setup 2.4 GHz wireless via a USB dongle that goes into your PC. And the cushion runs for eight hours before needing to recharge, meaning you essentially get a full day’s work of battery life before plugging it back up. Better yet, it charges via a Type-C charger, so replacing would be a breeze. Not only does Project Carol support any PC with a 7.1 surround sound output, it supports any media with up to 7.1 encoding.
According to Razer, Project Carol features near-field surround sound thanks to the 7.1 surround speakers located in the flaps of the cushion. It uses the Razer HyperSense haptic technology, which powers much of the company’s gaming headsets. It picks up shapes and frequencies from audio and converts it into lifelike sounds and effects, and when you put it to the test you can feel that technology at work. It truly brought the movie we viewed to life in a way that no other sound system has.
The sound quality itself holds up incredibly well, handling deep bass and punches of loud, sudden noises like a champ. And the balance is great as well; despite the speakers being right next to your ears, it doesn’t have the feeling of blasting in them and there was no residual ringing once we stepped away.
(Image credit: razer)
Experience Razer Project Carol in action, as it took every sound from each bullet fired, the revving of car and truck engines, crashes, and explosions and translated them into this rich, vivid, realistic reverb that immerses you into the scene like no other experience. It was like a surround sound setup but both contained in a tiny space and amplified into a whole new level.
Even though this is only a project concept, walking away from the demo we couldn’t help but feel that this is a concept that could viably enter the market at a solid price and availability. And more importantly, this product could fill a niche for those who want a high-quality surround sound setup without having to purchase and actually set up all the pieces that go with it.