Sound waves move through our entire body, it’s just that our eardrums are usually the only parts of us sensitive enough to notice. That’s a basic fact of physics that we forget about until we end up at a rave or a heavy metal show or any other experience where we’re getting hit with enough sound to make our skeletons shake, a multisensory experience that some people find not only transcendent but addictive. Those are the kind of people who are responsible for the existence of drone metal, trap music, and a gadget called Woojer.
Woojer is a small box that between its size and the clip on one side brings to mind an old-school pager. In the promotional material its manufacturer calls it a “silent, wearable subwoofer” and a “portable augmented reality device,” but it’s actually just box that sits in your personal listening signal chain in between your headphones and whatever’s playing your music and vibrates along to the bass frequencies. Clip it onto yourself–the literature suggests putting it on your chest or in the small of your back–and it’s supposed to simulate the bone-rattling experience of hearing massively amplified music.
The fact that Woojer is essentially just a boxy, compact vibrator is never clearer than the first time you strap it on and awkwardly find the right spot for it as it buzzes in your hand. But if you can find it (and also locate the proper IDGAF attitude toward wearing a vibrator on your body in public) it actually does a surprisingly good job of making you feel like you’re standing in front of a speaker stack. Apparently just a little physical sensation synched up to the music you’re listening to goes a long way. An iOS app (soon to launch in Android) allows you to fine-tune the experience, giving different responses to different genres of music.
Woojer may be a niche product, but it seems to be a sizable niche. It was initially funded by a Kickstarter that raised $143,000, and for real body-vibration addicts multiple units can be chained together. At $99 you probably have to be a real bass addict to want to cop one, but there seems to be no shortage of those around.