Concept video game controller takes haptic feedback to the next level

University Utah Tactor ControllerMany games controllers feature haptic feedback in the form of vibration, or if you’re using a steering wheel some kind of force feedback, to give the impression of weight and to provide a more complete sensory experience. At the University of Utah, engineers are developing what could be the next step in providing realistic feedback through games controllers, and this time it’s embedded in the joystick itself.

Think of a PlayStation or Xbox controller’s analog sticks, and then imagine that inside is a small moving part, not unlike the thumb-controlled pointing stick found on various laptops. The movement of the sticks — which they call “tactors” — then corresponds with the on-screen action, and can be felt through the thumb as it tugs in different directions.

For example, if you fire a gun they twitch back and forward to mimic the weapon’s recoil, or they sway to convey the movement of the sea if you’re on a boat. The team has written a fishing game with which to test the system, and here the tactors help identify which way a hooked fish is pulling.

While gaming is the obvious application for this type of haptic technology, it’s also being linked to situations where tactile feedback could be used to compliment audible alerts, such as indicating direction through a steering wheel when used in conjunction with GPS navigation instructions.

One of the professors working on the project says he hopes to have the controller production-ready in time for the next generation of consoles, and he also mentions the possibility of making a version for smartphones too, not unlike systems such as the iControlPad.

Of course, the success of this type of technology depends on there being plenty of games which support it, therefore the controller will be making an appearance at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco too.

Additionally, the BBC reports the concept has been pitched to several console manufacturers including Microsoft and that if adopted, the technology’s license would add around $15 to the price of a regular controller.

Mobile

With Spotify for WearOS, you no longer need your phone to stream music

A Spotify app will soon be available for download on Wear OS smartwatches. Whether you're working out or lounging at home, you'll soon be able to access and control your music straight from your wrist.
Smart Home

Is your smart home lighting too confusing? Intellect simplifies your controls

Leviton introduced Intellect, a new controls platform for smart home lighting. Intellect is the fifth brand to join Leviton's portfolio, alongside ConTech, Intense, Birchwood, and JCC.
Cars

Ford imagines a future without traffic lights or stop signs

Ford is using vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) tech to allow cars to pass through intersections without stopping. The experimental "Intersection Priority Management" system basically acts as air traffic control for cars.
Smart Home

After the launch of the Hub, the Google Home App gets a major overhaul

Google is following up a big hardware event in New York City this week with the reveal of a completely redesigned Google Home App that enables remote access, control over a suite of smart home devices, and more.
Gaming

Jump into an internet DeLorean and play free Commodore 64 games online

The Internet Archive has added more than 8,800 full Commodore 64 games to its software library. Here's how you can play them completely free in your browser without the need for a joystick.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ in-game tournaments will give you the chance to beat the pros

Epic Games is introducing in-game tournaments to Fortnite. The initial schedule includes five tournaments, with commemorative pins going to the victors. Down the road, the pins might grant you access into additional rounds.
Gaming

Monsters you get in ‘Pokémon: Let’s Go’ can be transferred to the next main RPG

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eeevee! monsters will be able to be transferred to the next main Pokémon RPG on Switch, according to game director Junichi Masuda.
Gaming

Here's how you can keep up with your favorite streamers at TwitchCon 2018

From sessions with your favorite streamers to epic Esports tournaments, there's plenty to look forward to at this year's TwitchCon 2018. We cover how you can attend, where you can watch if you can't, and which events you don't want to miss.
Gaming

Turbo-powered Quadcrasher crashes the party in new ‘Fortnite’ update 6.01

Season 6, week 4 marks the arrival of Fortnite update 6.10 patch notes. It brings with it the arrival of the new Quadcrasher vehicle, in-game tournaments, a ton of Save the World additions, and much more.
Gaming

What you should know about 'Red Dead Redemption 2' before it launches

The long-awaited (and long-rumored) sequel to Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption is confirmed. Red Dead Redemption 2 will arrive next spring. Here's everything we've heard about the game so far.
Gaming

PS4 ‘Spider-Man’ game gets ‘The Heist’ DLC, new costumes on October 23

The first downloadable content pack for Marvel's Spider-Man, The Heist, is out October 23. The pack adds three new suits for Spider-Man to wear, and its story focuses on Felicia Hardy.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' outshines the games it copies with that Call of Duty polish

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s omission of a campaign could have been a deal breaker, but multiplayer, Zombies, and the new Blackout mode make it one of the best shooters of the year.
Gaming

Tired of waiting for the PlayStation Classic? Try one of these PS1 emulators

It's not always easy to get ahold of original PlayStation titles due to pricing and general availability. Emulators can solve that problem. Here are the top five PlayStation emulators.