When haptics let you feel the music

August 25, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Over the summer, German startup Lofelt GmbH has raised just about 600,000 euros through a Kickstarter campaign to finalize and mass produce what the company describes as a wearable subwoofer.

A 17x20x6mm wrist-worn device, Basslet incorporates the company's patent-pending LoSound engine that faithfully and silently reproduces the punch feel of bass lines, in direct contact with the wearer's skin. Based on a voice-coil principle, this haptic device lets the wearers experience the music in a more immersive way, as if they were at a live concert, albeit only wearing their headphones and the Basslet. It is designed to transmit the full bass spectrum, from 10 to 250Hz directly to the skin, and is felt as a whole external music vibration.

Founded in 2014, the startup is headed by CEO Daniel Büttner, a former sound engineer at music creation software and hardware provider Ableton. Before joining Lofelt as its CTO, co-founder Gwydion ap Dafydd was product designer at Ableton's main competitor Native Instruments, a company producing software and hardware for computer-based audio production and DJing.

With a degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of York (England), Dafydd had spent six years at Texas Instruments prior to joining the music industry. The two met through mutual friends when Büttner was looking for partners to develop the Basslet.

"He gave me a demo two years ago, at the time it was a bulky and crude prototype, but it convinced me," remembers Dafydd. For Lofelt's first year of existence, the two co-founders bootstrapped the company, before receiving Angel seed funding at the end of last year which helped them pay wages and build up their team.

The recent Kickstarter campaign then provided Lofelt with the cash flow necessary to go to production.

But how did this "haptics for music" idea came up?

"Büttner is a long time musician. As a double bass player he was always interested in this gap between live music where you feel the vibrations in your body, and listening to music with headphones", Dafydd told EETimes Europe.

"Typically, you forget you miss this element until you reintroduce it. You wouldn't get that feeling with headphones", he added.

"Basslet bridges this gap in a mobile way, it gets some of this feeling back into the mobile experience."