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Microsoft Surface Used as a Big Games Controller

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 6 comments

Hands-on gaming.

Touchscreen gaming, like it or not, is soon going to be huge. Some would say that gaming on touchscreens is already big and here, and not in the way of the Nintendo DS, but the iPod touch, iPhone and all the Android phones that rely entirely on the touch screen for input.

What, then, will become of the control interfaces for more hardware games that require a controller or mouse and keyboard? Nobody knows yet, but University of Massachusetts Lowell Robotics Lab student Eric McCann seems to have an early idea of what it could be like.

Using Microsoft's experimental Surface table experiment, McCann hacked together a controller interface that uses both hands on the screen to control Microsoft Flight Simulator as well as Valve Software's Portal.

While it's not a perfect solution since your hands are still covering screen real estate, it's still a fascinating exercise that could point to how we someday may play hardcore games.

Check out the video demo below:

(via Kotaku.)

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    codefuapprentice , 16 September 2010 21:31
    Not to sound negative, but to me, those demos seem like the wrong type of applications to run using that kind of control scheme. just watching portal and how the player was interacting with the game, looked very clunky, although it did look cool how you can interact with the game environment.

    Thats probably why so many games work well on the iPhone and iPad, i've yet to use an iPad/iPhone, but i can't imagine they'd be too far from the realms of the DS.
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    joneb , 17 September 2010 01:25
    Erm, the surface is a table so what this video isnt showing is this person bending over the table playing the game which to me doesnt seem very comfortable. With his hands covering the screen it doesnt seem condusive to enjoying the full scene as you can do sitting back comfortable looking ahead at your monitor with the controls in your hand, full screen on view. Touchscreen is not good for anything but maybe phones, tablets and maybe laptops. Microsoft Kinect is where its going to be at for computer use so you wont have to be sitting a foot away from your much larger monitor/TV screen. Im pretty sure there will be controllers for games that really benefit from a prop like guns for shooting games.

    I sit in a recliner chair right now, my feet up, with my light small keyboard on my lap propped up by a cushion and my mouse on small table next to me. I am 6 foot from my 32" tv screen and very comfortable. What sounds better? That or sitting a foot away from your big tv, its bright screen glaring in your face and your hands covering some of it?
  • 0 Hide
    jamie_macdonald , 17 September 2010 18:53
    Amongst all the normal negativity above (seems a tech site tradition at the moment) i would like to say this looks like an awesome progression.

    I love the way the controllers (visual) ones move with the hands (therefore saving getting in the way in a fixed position).. very handy

    Maybe for now it's not of much use ... but i can imagine the tabletops of the future and the tablets on your lap will make great use of technology like this...

    I think it all looks rather promising ... unlike the above ...who seems not to notice that if your hands are in the way, they are movable? (perhaps their limbs do not work? ^^).

    Good stuff ... now we just need the devices to progress!
  • 0 Hide
    tinnerdxp , 17 September 2010 22:09
    agree with ^^^ But... I have to admit this kind of input makes sort of sense for Flight Simulator... What strikes me though is why the guy did not "touch" any of the instruments directly - It just feels intuitive to do - right?
  • 0 Hide
    jamie_macdonald , 17 September 2010 22:13
    This is showing use of a virtual controller (existing style controller) on a touch device ...so like virtual joypads,

    It's a tech example, of course flicking the actual switches would be better like you can with the mouse on flight sim ...it's purely a tech example and not a game release ...so dont look too much into anything but the concept (or you'll drive yourself mad :p )

    I would be pretty certain that MS FS 2030 with a touch PC and a billion odd cores doing ray tracing will have proper switches right? hehe
  • 0 Hide
    joneb , 18 September 2010 20:38
    I come up with common sense queries unlike the "rosy colord glasses" people or the "sound movies wont catch on" kind of people. Bending over the table is not as comfortable as reclining in a chair full stop. It doesnt take brain power to work out one puts stress on the body and the other helps take it off. If the screen is to also becomes the controller with hands placed over it there wil be loss of screen real estate. If you can conrol the action on screen without touching it, like from sitting back relaxed that is obviously going to be what people want whenever possible unless they want to play an energetic game or maybe using a work / utility type application.

    I remember little over 8 or so months ago when people were still laughing at the idea of a tablet over a laptop and I saw there were some good applications for it and look how tablets have taken off.