Prototype Controller Could Be The Future Of Tactile Feedback In Games

The University of Utah is at it again, assuming they have been at it before at some point. Researchers there have created a prototype that could finally improve tactile feedback in game controllers, a feature that hasn't changed since the introduction of the rumble pack well over a decade ago.

Force feedback comes standard on most systems these days (we're looking at you, PS3 launch controllers), so it's about time someone upped the ante. The prototype they've created can provide directional feedback to either thumb "to simulate the tug of a fishing line, the recoil of a gun or the feeling of ocean waves." So they've got Rapala Pro Bass Fishing, Cabela's Big Game Hunter and Wave Race 64 covered. What else can it do?

"If a gamer’s avatar runs into a wall, the tactor under the thumb moves back to mimic impact," writes the university's news center. Both tactors can move from side to side to mimic ocean waves. And when a fish bites in one of the games the researchers tried, 'as the fish jerks on the line, you can feel the tactor jerk under your thumb,' [associate professor of mechanical engineering William] Provancher says.

"Video games commonly are designed so the left thumb stick controls motion and the right controls the player’s gaze or aim. With the new controller, as a soldier avatar crawls forward, the player pushes the left thumb stick forward and feels the tactors tugging alternately back and forth under both thumbs, mimicking the soldier crawling first with one arm, then the other."

Check out the video above for a demonstration. It's actually sort of incredible. Do you think Microsoft or Sony should attempt to incorporate similar technology into their next consoles? What about Valve? let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

[via Joystiq]

Tags: controllers, prototypes, university-of-utah, force-feedback
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