We can still remember what a jolt we got the first time our video game controller played back—the Rumble Pak on our Nintendo 64 gave a gentle shake when we loaded up Super Mario 64. The addition of haptic feedback to our in-game senses made the gaming experience that much better, and now vibration is a built-in feature to almost every console on the market. So what's the next frontier in game controller design? Well if you ask MIT, it's temperature.
But MIT's Technology Review is predicting that Thermoelectrics is the "dark horse stalking this race."
Apparently, it would be easy to incorporate thermoelectric devices into objects "of reasonable size." And researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University have already shown it could make it's way to our video game controllers:
A pair of thermoelectric surfaces on either side of a controller rapidly heat up or cool down in order to simulate appropriate conditions in a virtual environment. The temperature difference isn't large - less than 10 degrees heating or cooling after five seconds, but the researchers involved discovered that, as with haptics, just a little sensory nudge can be enough to convince involved participants in a virtual environment that they are experiencing something like the real thing.
So the next time Mario falls into a lava pit, you might really feel it.
What do you think? Could this be the next big thing in gaming? Would you buy in? Tell us in the comments!