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Game Controllers that Feedback

March 26, 2012

This is pretty cool:

A prototype video game controller that tugs on your thumbs as you play could make games feel more realistic by simulating the pull of a fishing line, the recoil of a gun or the feeling of ocean waves.

The new controller, created by researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake CIty, features the typical pair of thumb joysticks found on an Xbox or PlayStation controller but at the centre of each stick there is also small “tactor” which moves beneath the player’s thumb to mimic a variety of motions. For example, the team created a fishing game in which the tactors indicate the pull of a caught fish or move from side to side to simulate a swaying ocean.

The rumble in a controller has been with us for some time now, and is an effective haptic feedback system for a game. I’m playing Dead Space 2 at the moment and the buzzing of the PS3 controller at key points really add to the vibe of the game. However it does not always work out; I remember working on integrating a ‘force feedback mouse’ for the PC title Abomination, back in the day; nice idea but didn’t work in practice. Controllers have been a major source of innovations for the games industry over the last fee years; the iOS touch screens, Kinect, Wii, Guitar Hero etc and this sound like it could continue this trend.

Markus Montandon, University of Utah, from New Scientist

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