John Matthews was playing video games when he stumbled across a problem and quickly became intrigued to fix it. A few years ago, while his wife worked night shifts he would watch his newborn baby girl and video games were essential in helping him stay awake. “I would play video games to stay up for my baby girl but it was really hard for me to hold her while I was playing the game,” Matthews explained.
Matthews quickly realized how difficult it was to comfortably play the game while tending to his child. “So I grabbed one of the pillows that women use for nursing. I’m embarrassed of it but I crafted it in order to prop her up. And it was actually really, really comfortable,” said Matthews.
While using the boppy pillow to assist him, Matthews realized how uncomfortable playing the game was without it. Most importantly, he didn’t realize how much pressure and pain he was putting on his back while playing the video game.
“Gamers can find themselves gaming for an hour, two hours, three, four hours, sometimes locked in unnatural positions. And so we started off with that as the base solution to a problem,” Matthews said.
Not only did Matthews find a solution to his gaming problem it sparked a bigger idea for other gamers. However, he still didn’t realize how great his idea was until he went to work and asked his coworkers for their opinion.
“I went to work, and I shared with my coworkers what I thought was a trifling parenting story. And they were like, John, I think you got something,” Matthews explained.
Shortly after Matthews and a few of his coworkers got together to further pursue creating a comfortable way to play the video game and enhance the overall experience.
First Matthews said they, “filed a patent almost eight years ago, I want to say, we filed a patent and waited two years because it takes about two years for a UK patent. And they awarded us the patent. So we were like, okay, let’s move. Let’s move!”
They decided to name the product ‘Barrage’ to represent a device that gives the user an array of new senses while playing the video game. The Barrage is a full effects simulator for video games and takes users’ video game experience to the next level.
The Barrage can stimulate the aroma, lighting, temperature and additional senses of the video game which allows the user to feel exactly what their gaming character feels.
“So if my character is dropped in a volcano I can feel the heat of the volcano and if the character is dropped in the arctic I can feel the chill of the arctic,” Matthews said.
Matthews explains that this device is unlike any other in relation to its compact size and diverse range of capabilities for the user. “If I’m playing Call of Duty and I’m rummaging through the forest, I can smell the pine. If I’m in a volcano I can actually smell the burning coal. This is gaming to the next level. Our LED’s mimic the ambient lighting on the screen. So again, in that volcano, I can light the whole room up red and if I’m in the arctic I can light the whole room up blue,” Matthews explains.
The device takes comfortability to the next level for the gamer while creating an experience unlike any other.
In addition to opening a user’s senses while they play the video game the Barrage also stimulates impact. The device uses a belt that wraps around the user and is embedded with motors. The belt allows the user to feel what their character feels nearly 360 degrees around them.
After years of hard work creating the device Matthews says there is still more work to do. “Right now we’re prepping for our final build. So we’ve done our proof of concept, we’ve done our prototype, we’ve done our market ready prototype, now we’re finalizing the market ready prototype for manufacturing,” Matthews said.
Although progress is underway the journey has not been a walk in the park. Matthews and his business partners heard several no’s from investors along the way. “I’m really proud of the fact that we didn’t give up,” Matthews said.
“Some of the things that I’ve heard from investors I know would really demotivate minority founders. I would say that the greatest challenge was developing a thick skin,” Matthews added.
As Barrage prepares to hit the shelves, Matthews personal goal is to help create opportunities for other minority founders like himself.
“Folks are looking to cultivate what we’re bringing to the table, because we have value too, you know, it’s just opportunities. We can be in the room with like minded individuals. I think it’s important, and I really wish we had more things, in my particular community where we can help encourage one another,” Matthews said.