Mad Genius Controller prototype unveiled

May 13, 2013 | 10:50

Tags: #dualshock-3 #game-controller #skyrim #wii

Companies: #mad-genius-controllers #sony

Sony's long-rumoured but never-realised break-apart DualShock controller has been given a new lease of life, in the form of the aptly-titled Mad Genius Controller.

The brainchild of the eponymous Mad Genius Controllers partnership, the Mad Genius Controller is loosely based on a concept rumoured for the PS3 back in 2008: a break-apart game controller which can switch easily between normal twiddle-your-thumbs mode and ultra-accurate motion-sensing mode. While Sony's version, the company's rumoured answer to the two-handed motion-tracking control system of Nintendo's Wii console, would never see the light of day, the Mad Genius Motion Capture System has already entered the prototype stage - and it's pretty impressive, too.

Described in a demonstration video uploaded by the team and spotted by Engadget, the prototype is already showing some serious capabilities: with one half of the controller held in each hand, the system uses no accelerometers or cameras to perform its magic - resulting in a tracking system significantly more sensitive than anything that has been seen before. 'I wasn't kidding when I said that breathing affects the aim if you're trying to shoot something very tiny. It really is that sensitive,' a team representative claims in a YouTube comment. 'The sensitivity can be adjusted, of course. But how cool is it to have to hold your breath, just like a real bow?'

Sadly, the team has yet to indicate just what the technology used is - but claims that accuracy of up to a hundredth of an inch is possible across both halves of the controller. Better still, the system is transparent to the device to which it is connected: the team claim full compatibility with the Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStations 1 through 3, Wii and PC, with no requirement to modify the game or the console in order to add the motion-tracking capabilities. A clever programmable macro system allows the unmodified game to, for example, equip and ready a bow when the player enters a bow-firing stance - opening the favourites menu, equipping the bow, exiting the menu and entering the firing mode in a single gesture.

That compatibility does come with a cost, however: because the system watches for gestures in order to transmit a control signal to the game, unavoidable delays crop up which threaten to ruin immersion. In the demonstration video, which sees the controller connected to an Xbox 360 running Skyrim, this is seen most clearly during the hammer-swing portion: the hammer begins swinging in-game after the player has fully finished the swinging motion. 'The time delay between moving the controller and swinging the sword or warhammer is part of Skyrim' the team claims in defence of its technology. 'It's not a delay in the controller. The controller fires the command as soon as the player has done the motion.'

Described as a proof-of-concept, the team already has plans for a commercial implementation. The inevitable Kickstarter crowd-funding launch is coming, the money from which will be used to refine the system and replace the awkward-looking wire tethers with a fully wireless communication system.

If you're curious as to what the system looks like in action, the team's demonstration video is reproduced below.

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