Video game feedback systems haven't changed dramatically since the implementation of "rumble" over a decade ago. Engineers at the University of Utah hope to change that with a new kind of controller. The prototype controller provides haptic feedback via small pads that sit under the player's thumbs. These pads can move in any direction, stretching the skin of the thumb, offering directional cues or simulating in-game events.
The pads can mimic the usual game fare -- explosions and the like -- but they can also simulate more tactile sensations, like the "feeling" of crawling on the ground while prone in a shooter. Another example shows the pads indicating the direction that enemy fire is coming from, or simulating impact against a surface.
It's a bit hard to grasp from the description alone, so we suggest you check out the video above for a peek at our possible future. Associate professor of mechanical engineering, William Provancher, hopes to see the controller in production in time for the next generation of game consoles.