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A review of the TFS2 system and the Grand Prix 4 IntelliVibe module by VRF Corp.

By Paul
16 November 2003


Ok, so how do you increase your immersive experience of racing simulations? Force feedback steering wheel? New sound system? How about actually feeling as if you are driving in the car? Ok, it may sound odd but there is company called VRF Corp. who have released a "force feedback seat" called the TFS2 which does exactly this.

SimRacingWorld was lucky enough to be sent the TFS2, which stands for the "Tactile Feedback System version 2.0" along with the new Grand Prix 4 intelliVIBE® "module" (more on that later).

So, What Is It?

So what exactly is the Tactical Feedback System, or TFS2 for short?

TThe TFS2 is a two part system, comprised by the TFS2 Electronic Controller, and the TFSU “Tactile Feedback Seating Unit”, which combine together to form the complete TFS Tactile Feedback System. Put simply, the TFS2 Electronic Controller (which you can see a picture of below), is the "brain" of the system which generates the force feedback sensations you feel through the TFSU seating unit.

The TFSU itself is a thick and durable seat cushion made of laminated open-cell polyurethane foam. It sits on your standard computer chair, and can be set in place by using the provided straps. Contained within the TFSU are 6 powerful electromechanical actuators, arranged in 3 zones: one pair in the back section, one pair in the left leg section, and one pair in the right leg section. All three zones can function independently or in unison. By having these three independent zones, the TFS can render things such as vector based gforce, acceleration and braking cues, engine RPM, road surfaces, and just about any other thing you can think of.

When you open the package you will expect to see the following items:

- The TFS2 Electronic Controller
- The TFSU Tactile Feedback Seating Unit
- All necessary cables
- A universal input power supply
- A link to download the software & drivers, and PDF Owner's Manual

How Does It Work?

The TFS2 system can work with every game or simulation you already own via something called AudioSense®. This is what they call the “universal compatibility mode” because it works with everything that has sound effects.

AudioSense works through the TFS2 Electronic Controller by plugging it into your sound system. When you rig up the TFS2, you will notice one cable serves as a splitter for the cable from your sound card - with one end going to the speakers, and the other going to the TFS2 Electronic Controller. AudioSense works in the way its name suggests; it detects sound effects and converts them into feedback effects that you feel through the seating unit.

It uses its 20 MHz RISC microprocessor and a digital signal processing algorithm that can be uniquely customized for each specific game or simulation to tell the TFS2 how to interpret and generate feedback effects based upon the real time audio analysis. You can even use AudioSense for watching films, or listening to music CD's!

While AudioSense works with everything, the TFS2 also makes use of intelliVIBE, which is a game-specific module-based technology (that is, each game or sim ideally gets its own intellivibe “module”). For intelliVIBE to be enabled, it requires some direct support by the game or simulation in question. This works by having code support for intelliVIBE put into specific games which the TFS Electronic Controller detects and interprets, and of course results in feedback through the seating unit that you feel.

There is even a mode of operation called “Universal intelliVIBE” which uses AudioSense and intelliVIBE together if there is no direct support for the game or sim in question - but, for Grand Prix 4, we have an intelliVIBE module that was made specifically for Grand Prix 4.

Pages: 1, 2, 3 Installation & IntelliVIBE Grand Prix 4 »

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