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Input Devices Games

Next-gen Game Controllers Tug At Thumb Tips 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the strict-catch-and-release-policy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Engineers at the University of Utah have designed a new kind of video game controller that not only vibrates like existing devices, but pulls and stretches the thumb tips in different directions to simulate various types of movement. 'We have developed feedback modes that enhance immersiveness and realism for gaming scenarios such as collision, recoil from a gun, the feeling of being pushed by ocean waves or crawling prone in a first-person shooter game,' said the lead researcher on the project, adding he hoped the technology would be adopted in the next generation of gaming consoles."
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Next-gen Game Controllers Tug At Thumb Tips

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  • It pulls too hard and break your thumb? ouch!
    • by sideslash (1865434) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:58PM (#39254287)

      It pulls too hard and break your thumb? ouch!

      Not sure why this was downvoted. That would be a cool feature for Grand Theft Auto when you don't fulfill your obligations to the mafia.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        It pulls too hard and break your thumb? ouch!

        Not sure why this was downvoted. That would be a cool feature for Grand Theft Auto when you don't fulfill your obligations to the mafia.

        Or a great incentive for you to buy the latest DLC.

  • hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:59PM (#39254311) Homepage

    "...not only vibrates like existing devices, but pulls and stretches the thumb tips in different directions to simulate..."
    what kind of games are these guys playing?

    • by tepples (727027)

      Apart from your joke that probably refers to H-games...

      Read the article and you'll see what kind of games they tried it with. In platformers, it signals when the character has run into a wall. In stealth games, it mimicks the left-right motion of a low crawl. In driving games, it signals when the steering mechanism is offering resistance. And in fishing games, it signals when a fish is biting.

      • by vidnet (580068)

        So pretty much like the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback [youtube.com] joystick from 1998.

        I had one of those. It had its moments, particularly when getting hit, but ultimately it didn't add much to the overall experience.

        The only great force feedback application I've seen in a game is the buzzer alerting your drunken, distracted friends that it's their turn in Mario Party.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      "...not only vibrates like existing devices, but pulls and stretches the thumb tips in different directions to simulate..." what kind of games are these guys playing?

      And if it is only their thumbs they are putting in the controller.

    • what kind of games are these guys playing?

      The kind that puts hair on your chest^H^H^H^H palms.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      "...not only vibrates like existing devices, but pulls and stretches the thumb tips in different directions to simulate..."
      what kind of games are these guys playing?

      I don't know, but if I know one thing about console gamers, it'll be more than their thumbs that are going to get tugged.

      I can see a lot of very interesting emergency room visits arising out of these next-gen controllers.

      And how funny will the inevitable warning labels on the new controllers be? "WARNING: Use of these controllers by any body

  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mvar (1386987) on Monday March 05, 2012 @06:01PM (#39254329)
    There's still a long way till they manage to make a game controller that is actually better than the keyboard & mouse combo..
    • by tepples (727027)
      Keyboard and mouse are fine for single player, not so fine for multiplayer when you have mates over. For that, you need gamepads or remotes (e.g. Wii Remote or PS Move). And in a first-person shooter with keyboard and mouse, how do you control your walking speed and angle, other than a mere walk/run toggle or 45 degree increments of forward and sideways?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Umm you do realize that the mouse moves in four directions?

        I use a trackball and can run one way, look another, shot you in the head and then turn back to my original direction or a new one and keep going. ANY PC gamer worth his salt in an FPS can move and shot in two different directions.

        Thsi doesn't mean I disagree about "when you have yer mates over" but not everyone wants 10 sweaty guys in their living room to play MP games.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Umm you do realize that the mouse moves in four directions?

          Yes: rotate the camera up, down, left, and right. But because these directions are proportional, one can aim at any speed and direction. The WASD keys, on the other hand, are like an 8-directional digital control pad, and you need a fifth key to toggle between usually two movement speeds (walk and run).

          not everyone wants 10 sweaty guys in their living room to play MP games.

          I was thinking two to four players, which is an improvement over KBM's one player especially if the people visiting your home can't bring their own family PCs. Maybe KBM on a LAN is best for FPS and RTS and g

          • by nemasu (1766860)
            Hmm, I guess the absolute best of both worlds would be an analogue stick for movement, and a mouse for aiming.
            That would be pretty cool actually.
      • by Amtrak (2430376)
        Solution: One Mouse for looking and clicking on stuff, one 12 button joy stick for controlling the legs/button mashing. There was that really that hard? The only thing that makes computer games better than consoles when it comes to input devices is choices. On a computer you can remap inputs to whatever you want on what ever device you want(Except on a few lazy console ports). This allows the user to use what they are most comfortable with. For example I wouldn't dream of using a game pad to play Civilizat
      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        Really?

        Bunnyhop with your gamepad. Go ahead.

        Walking slowly? I've got a walk key. Further, I can tap my movement keys intermittently.

        Can you spinjump a 180 into a headshot, every time, on a gamepad?

        You can do it on a kb+m, just a little practice.

        FPS games using gamepads have autoaim, while FPS games that use kb+m are more likely to be derided for including such a nubbish feature.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Bunnyhop with your gamepad. Go ahead.

          AVGN managed to [youtube.com]. (As usual, AVGN audio is not safe for work.)

          But seriously, I'll grant that you've made your point about FPS. Now about all the other genres...

        • by timftbf (48204)

          FPS games using gamepads have autoaim, while FPS games that use kb+m are more likely to be derided for including such a nubbish feature.

          FPS games are dull, so it's not an issue. Thankfully, some interesting games are still made for consoles as well.

    • by vlm (69642)

      keyboard and trackball here. I don't game on something as low res as 1080, not since I upgraded to that 1600x1200 CRT from the 90s.

      Anyway the question I have here is what is the tendonitis effect of random force at random positions and times? My guess is its either really good to prevent repetitive stress injuries or really bad when it creates weird strain injuries.

      It'll probably only be used as an obnoxious gimmick, but I could see something like skyrim style lockpicking having some real world force feed

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, you're gaming on an even lower resolution.

        1600x1200 = 1,920,000 pixels
        1920x1080 = 2,073,600 pixels

        • by mjwx (966435)

          No, you're gaming on an even lower resolution.

          1600x1200 = 1,920,000 pixels
          1920x1080 = 2,073,600 pixels

          1920x1200 = 2,304,000 pixels. 24" IPS, dual monitors.

          PC's aren't limited to 1080p. I could have 4,096,000 pixels each on two monitors but I have a stubborn refusal to pay over $300 for a monitor.

      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        I've gotta back you up against these LCD fanbois.

        I was also a long-time CRT holdout.

        I still haven't seen an LCD that can refresh as quickly and completely as an old CRT, let alone when you've got high contrast AND rapid motion.

        Kids these days think they have it good, but they have no idea. I like my LCD, but, damn. It ISN'T the same, STILL -- and now, there's no alternative. We have to just wait until some sort of flat-screen tech catches up to CRT levels.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I may have had a lot worse precision playing Mechwarrior (3-4?) a long time ago, but it sure was a lot more fun with my old Logitech Wingman Force joystick than with my keyboard & mouse combo, that joystick had some powerful servos and a steel cables that allowed for some very strong and precise Force feedback effects, just the walking Mech effect was enough to make aiming at far objectives hard.

      I may need to dust it off an reinstall the game one more time. Back then I used to have a 3D shutter glasses

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      The marketplace has already decided that game controllers are already better than mouse & keyboards. It's not like keyboard & mouse technology is anything new, game controllers could and have made them an option for consoles - I remember shooters on the Dreamcast gave that as an option. They weren't popular, so it's no longer a thing.

      Anyway we live in a world where you can play Skyrim on your XBox with a controller or on your computer with a keyboard + mouse, so really who cares.

      • They weren't popular because they radically unbalanced most games in favor of the KB and Mouse players. Basically it became a 'pay for results' sort of thing. Apparently in testing a few games in the last console generation in order to make the games even slightly competitive between the two options, auto-aim had to be turned up to an unacceptable degree for the joystick players.
      • by tepples (727027)

        Anyway we live in a world where you can play Skyrim on your XBox with a controller or on your computer with a keyboard + mouse, so really who cares.

        Who cares are indie video game developers who lack the resources to move to Austin, Boston, Seattle/Vancouver, or other cities with multiple mainstream publishers. (I've already explained why in detail several times before.)

        • by kamapuaa (555446)

          Oh yeah, indie video game makers from small cities, who are releasing games for both consoles and computers. I'm sure there's at least dozens of people upset about that.

    • by garyoa1 (2067072)

      I'll drink to that. If they want to really move console games all they have to do is make a keyboard for it.

    • Better...at what? The mouse is good for one thing: precisely pointing at things in a two dimensional space. And the keyboard is good at one thing: offering a multitude of distinct binary inputs. Those are pretty versatile abilities, so they do work for a variety of games, but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily ideal, and the list of genres that can't fit neatly into those input models is longer than you seemed to imply.

      Granted, they're ideal for some genres. For instance, many MMOs provide a multit

    • Go ahead and try to pull off something like this [youtube.com] with a keyboard and mouse. Your desperate key clacking would amuse me no end.

      Horses for courses.

    • by tmarsh86 (896458)
      I prefer to be in a comfortable chair and nothing in my lap while playing videogames, thank you very much.
  • I hereby make a motion that everyone immediately and permanently stop work on all controller innovations that do not involve jacking our brains directly into the computer. Who's with me?

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I hereby make a motion that everyone immediately and permanently stop work on all controller innovations that do not involve jacking our brains directly into the computer. Who's with me?

      Oh, I'm fine with that, it's the pills ... THE PILLS!!!

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I hereby make a motion that everyone immediately and permanently stop work on all controller innovations that do not involve jacking our brains directly into the computer. Who's with me?

      They have a hard enough time getting DRM to work with DVD drives without breaking the entire OS, why the hell would you let them interface with your brain. They'll likely overwrite your respiratory drivers without telling you and due to poor coding, the DRM will shut down one or both of your lungs when daylight savings kicks in.

  • ...I want to know what type of computer simulations this type of controller technology will lead to.

  • I suffer rare instances where my thumb joint becomes inflamed and sensitive, bout lasting for up to two weeks (you really begin to understand how much you rely upon your thumb at times like this) usually set off by some minor little stress, which I haven't quite indentified. Odd I can lift heavy weights, do all manner of physical labor (shoveling, sawing, hammering, pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting) with no problem, than some little movement sets if off, like picking up a coffee mug.

    Whatever happened to

    • by tepples (727027)

      Whatever happened to eye-motion contollers?

      Just because you are looking at a particular object in your view doesn't mean you want to select it. Would you want to have your PC's mouse pointer track the saccades of your eyes while you read a comment like this?

  • This would be new to the console mass market I suppose, but not new as a controller. A small company called Novint has been selling haptic feedback controllers for years now on the PC.

    There's also a company called TNGames that sells a haptic vest designed to simulate bullet hits & explosions.

    • having read the article, and looked at the included picture at length, i can honestly say, i've not seen anything exactly like this before, and it seems like a smart idea.

      For those of you who do not care to read the article, the way this particular unit works is this:
      The normal round thumb stick tops have been replaced with a formed sort of depression that the thumb tip fits into, (think, conformed grip)
      in the middle of this space is a hole, with a nub that would only *just* come in contact with the
  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Monday March 05, 2012 @07:29PM (#39255401) Homepage

    Go on, pull the other one. .:)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Next generation force feedback for handheld controllers.

    Maybe the generation after they'll put some sort of gyroscopic motivator inside (gyroscope inside the controller, by using servos to move the gyroscope in one direction, the controller will pull in the other direction).

    *edit* Hah! I was right. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/cue/GyroTab/

    To appear in the proceedings of ACM CHI 2012, May 2012 --Looks like this is brand new!

    Specifically, from the PDF at the bottom:
    Differences in weig

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