Game Controller Lets You Feel The Weight Of Virtual Objects

Closing soon on Kickstarter, the Reactive Grip tricks your muscles into thinking they're in more than just a game.

Reactive Grip

Tactical Haptics

Controller feedback hasn't changed that much since the days of the Nintendo 64: something happens to your on-screen virtual avatar, and the controller rumbles in your hands to alert you. Although there have been tweaks, this has been the standard mechanism all the way up through the latest generation of consoles, the just-released PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

So it's refreshing to see innovation in the field, like the Reactive Grip controller--even if an influx of funding the creators were hoping for hasn't come. With 46 hours to go, the Reactive Grip, a creation by a team called Tactical Haptics that allows gamers to "feel" the weight of virtual objects, is still about $90,000 short of meeting its $175,000 Kickstarter goal.

That's a shame, since the idea behind the controller is simple but borderline brilliant: the controller detects when you're doing some heavy lifting in a game, then moves sliding plates on the grip to create the illusion of weight. If you're, say, lifting a sword above your head, the plates shift to push against the top of your hands, letting you "feel" the gravity of your swing.

The fact that the controller would only be available for computer games--when living-room consoles like the Wii have had more success with controller experimentation--might be part of the reason it hasn't attracted as many funders as the creators hoped. But the controller was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, so maybe there's some hope we'll see it yet.