Be careful when touching this new controller: It changes temperature depending on what’s going on in a game.
Videogame developers have constantly been looking for ways to make us feel the experience of a game rather than just seeing it since the beginning of the industry. The latest attempt is with an experimental controller that can make players feel differences in temperature.
The currently codenamed ThermoGame was revealed this week at the 2010 SIGGRAPH conference and is described as a “video game interaction system that offers dynamic temperature sensation to users.” It uses peltier elements to quickly heat or cool the sides of a controller. Don’t worry, because the extremes of each temperature are reportedly not enough to cause any damage to the hands; they’re just enough to create a sensation.
Researchers from the Tokyo Metropolitan University and the National Institute of Special Needs Education demonstrated the controller with a game they developed called Eruption Jumping. When the game’s robot is near an area of heat or cold, it’ll provide that sensation to the player. The researchers determined that it takes a little more than a second longer for users to react to heat than to cold.
This type of controller could be written off as a gimmick, but its creators plan to use it to develop a game system that the blind can play through temperature sensation alone. It could also be used to burn your arm off if you make a misstep into the lava in a Mario game. I’m just saying.