Ovilus 5, 0.34% English Language Coverage - Ovilus 5 Ghost Box Equipment Review
Friday 12th, January 2024
InternationalIreland Report / Story
With the announcement back in June 2023 from GhostStop that they would be releasing the Ovilus 5 in partnership with Digital Dowing and creator Bill Chappell, we wanted to dive deeper into the Ovilus and what it does and doesn't do. Bill Chappell is the now retired inventor behind paranormal investigation devices like the Spectral Recorder, Ectoplasmic Sensor and the Spirit Box.

With the impending retirement of Bill Chappell, he decided to partner with GhostStop to allow devices he worked on over the years to continue to evolve and have an impact on paranormal investigators for years to come, one of these devices being the Ovilus.

With all that out of the way, we have been meaning to get around to a review of the latest incarnation of the Ovilus for the paranormal community. We dig into the specifications and information made available as well as researching real world experiences with the device to put it all together to build a picture that is easy to consume and all the information is in one place for you the reader.

The main aim of the Ovilus 5 as an ITC device it to try and communicate with the spirit world, as of yet there is no hard evidence to suggest this is even possible, only stories of ITC communication from paranormal investigations in uncontrolled environments.

The Ovilus 5 comes with a full colour touch screen, we guesstimate the touch screen to be around 3.5 inch by 2.5 inch but again the actual size is not detailed in the specifications.

The official technical specifications from the GhostStop website are below, it's very light on technical details so watch this space as more information comes to light.
  • Size: 4.25"h x 3.15"w x 1.25"d
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs
  • Battery Life: run time may range from 12 to 20hrs depending on hits, settings and mode
  • Display: Full color touch screen
  • Voices: Male English, Female English, Male Spanish, Female Spanish
  • Battery Charging: Long-life battery rechargeable via USB
  • Battery Indicator: On-screen battery life indicator
  • Headphone port: Standard 3.5 audio jack

There is some additional information on the GhostStop website that gives some indications of the battery used, its a long life, internal rechargeable battery, unfortunately there is not enough detail to make an accurate assumption on the type of battery and it's capacity. It uses a USB-Mini to USB cable to charge the internal battery.
To reduce charge times we recommend a 1AMP (1000MaH). Please note that charge times will be extended if charged through a standard USB port of a computer. Charge times will vary from 1-10 hrs or longer if using less than a 1AMP charger. Run times will range from 12 to 20hrs depending on mode, settings and amount of hits.

The battery could be anything, most common rechargeable batteries used these days are NiCd, NiMH or Li-ion all having slightly different life expectancy.

The dictionary mode on the Ovilus 5 uses a predefined list of display words on changes in the EMF readings and displays a word on screen. Lets assume that only the English language is used and all words in the 2,048 list are all English and depending what source you use the total number of English words or phrases in existence is just under 600,000 or over 600,000. So for this example we'll say that there are exactly 600,000 words and phrases in the English language, this means that the Ovilus 5 dictionary mode uses just 0.34% of the English language which can introduce bias into the words seen in dictionary mode as they are predefined.

Who decides what words go into the predefined list, was it limited to 2,048 due to storage space or some memory restriction?! These are questions that jumped front of mind as there will be many people that use the Ovilus device but very likely haven't thought about any inherit bias in the device?

And please don't think that the idea of a bias in the Ovilus 5 device is an attack on the device as it's not, there are inherit bias in most if not all ITC devices and/or any electronic devices out there due to many different reasons, we're just calling it out for people to be mindful of the response they get so they can make a clearer judgement on the information the Ovilus 5 returns and any other device a paranormal investigator might use for that matter.

Ovilus 5 - Modes:
Dictionary Mode
One of the most notable features of the Ovilus 5 is its Dictionary Mode, which is specifically designed to help investigators communicate with spirits. In this mode, the device selects words from a set of dictionary words that correlate with environmental readings, creating a form of automatic writing in digital form.

In this mode, you will be able to see and hear words chosen based on environmental readings. Chosen words will be displayed immediately on the screen and an audible voice will be heard. When energy changes are detected, the magnitude of the change is used to select 1 of 2048 predefined words. This form of communication is based on the ITC theory that spirits may be able to manipulate ambient energy and associating those fluctuations with words. As such, Ovilus does not employ any form random generation.

Ovilus also includes a Log Mode for viewing the full list of spoken words. This mode is helpful for checking the list of words voiced during Dictionary Mode sessions.

Draw Mode
In Draw Mode, the Ovilus 5 detects and converts changes in the environment into colored pixels on the screen, allowing investigators to potentially capture images a spirit might want to illustrate in their communication. Ovilus will draws blocks across the screen in colors derived from environmental readings. This mode is a different method of ITC providing a visual that have the potential show us images or pictures.

Energy Mode
Energy Mode displays a graph of EMF energy designed to detect changes in the electromagnetic field, which is believed to be a sign of spirit activity. Energy level readings will be shown in a sine wave style similar to an oscilloscope. Showing the wave allows you to visualize how dynamic energy fields are rather than only showing an averaged number like a magnetometer (EMF meter) does. While Energy Mode may appear to respond to vibration, it is actually responding static and electromagnetic field changes as it moves.

Motion and Proximity Modes
Utilizing the built in accelerometer this mode displays motion fluctuations enabling small movements to be visualized. Motion Mode allows you to visualize vibration and touch, a great way to detect movements such as footsteps or moving objects.

The Proximity Mode detection motion which is perfect for capturing activity in a specific area or room, allowing investigators to easily pinpoint areas of interest during an investigation. Energy levels display in a radial graph. Proximity Mode is similar to Energy Mode in the data it processes. But it allows for a different view and a proximity trigger.

Phonetic Mode
Maybe you want the ability to allow entities to form words not set in the dictionary. No problem. Speech is formed from a set of sounds, or phonetics. This mode allows you to gather a collection of sounds that may produce words beyond the dictionary such as names, places, slang and other languages. In Phonetic Mode there are not even predefined words - just the building blocks of speech themselves.

True / False Mode
There are some gaps in the information supplied about the Ovilus 5 and the gaps in the information is not unique to the Ovilus 5, its a commonly seen issue with almost all paranormal equipment that is built specifically for paranormal investigation.

A UK based website that sells the Ovilus devices as well does state on it's website (the website needs a bit of proof reading, the mistakes not ours),
The Ovilus works in the works in the fact that words can be chosen when the EMF meter reading changes. But is still pseudoscience if the Ovilus works for communicating with ghosts.

This is something that critics of Bill Chappell have been saying for many years. Critics claiming that what the Ovilus does or other paranormal devices Bill has invented are all still based in pseudoscience. But alas, we're not here to prove or dis-prove this claim, we're here to tell you what we know and don't know about the paranormal investigation device, the Ovilus 5.

A couple of these gaps in available information are:
  • In dictionary mode it's stated that there are a total of 2,048 predefined words, how is it determined as to what words make the cut for this predefined list of words? And it's estimated that there are over 600,000 words in the English language, assuming this estimate is correct, this means that only 0.34% of English words are in the predefined list of words, how can you remove bias with such a low percentage coverage of English words?
  • For motion and proximity modes there is no public information on the working range of the sensors.
  • In Phonetic mode, how many sounds are in the collection and/or who creates these sounds and/or where are they sourced from?
  • The English and Spanish voices, does this only apply to the phonetic mode? Regardless of where the Spanish language is used, does this dilute say the 2,048 words in dictionary mode as they aren't all English or does it affect the sounds used in phonetic mode?

We have reached out to GhostStop with a few questions on the Ovilus 5 to clarify some of the outstanding questions outlined above. As Shawn Porter says in the announcement video for the partnership with Bill Chappell,
"I've always said that working together is one of those paths forward in this field"

So quietly optimistic and hopefully that GhostStop will get back to us with some answers to our questions.

Overall there are a few graphical displays of some features that already exist in some form or another on other devices in the market that just give you a reading or piece of text instead, apart from this there isn't much new in the Ovilus 5 that isn't on the market already in some form. The one up side to the Ovilus 5 is that you have many different tools in one device which should reduce the amount of different devices you think you might need to buy for conducting paranormal investigations.

We'll update as more information becomes available, watch this space.
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