2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Controller

The PowerA MOGA provides a tactile response not found with a touch screen

The PowerA MOGA is a Bluetooth game pad that brings traditional console controls to your Android smartphone. Set to launch in late 2012, the MOGA controller features dual analog sticks, as well as two triggers and a full set of face buttons, in an overall design that is reminiscent of the Xbox 360 controller, minus the directional pad. Most importantly, the MOGA has a grip to hold any Android smartphone up to 7.8 cm (3.07 inches) wide, allowing you to keep your thumbs on the control pad at all times.  Read More

A game controller made from paper and Play-Doh

As I discovered when reviewing the Minty Geek Electronics Lab a while back, experimenting with circuit building can be a great deal of fun. There was one particular project in this kit that made use of the human body to complete a circuit, with a simple lie detector test being the end result. With their Makey Makey open source hardware project, Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have taken such touch interaction to a much more entertaining and inventive degree. Everyday objects like bananas, coins, and even Play-Doh can be transformed into a computer keyboard key or mouse click to control onscreen gaming action, play software-based instruments or type out short messages.  Read More

A Texas Instruments Stellaris microcontroller which includes an older ARM Cortex-M process...

The newest entry in ARM's Cortex line, the Cortex-M0+ is claimed to be the world's most energy-efficient processor, delivering 32-bit performance on around one third of the typical energy requirements of an 8- or 16-bit processor. Targeting low-cost sensors and microcontrollers, the M0+ will come with a very modest price tag and could act as a crucuial stepping stone to a world in which everyday objects communicate with each other, sharing data to make smart, coordinated decisions that will improve our quality of life.  Read More

Digital music artist and inventor Onyx Ashanti has created a gestural interface controller...

A few days ago, my colleague Eric Mack brought together eight of the coolest items produced by 3D printing - I'd now like to add a ninth. Digital music artist and inventor Onyx Ashanti has spent the last couple of years creating a wearable system to help him break away from the confines of the front of a computer screen and create improvised music using wireless gestural interface controllers. His original prototype Beatjazz controller was made from cardboard and featured pressure sensors, accelerometers and an iPhone. The vast majority of the latest version has been 3D printed, and it looks and sounds incredible.  Read More

The prototype control pad uses 'tactors', independently-moving tactile feedback sticks tha...

A prototype control pad created by engineers at the University of Utah promises a generational leap in tactile feedback for video games over the rudimentary rumble-packs in use today. Using small, independently moving "tactors", perhaps best thought of as a thumb-stick within a thumb-stick, the engineers have simulated sensations such as collisions, crawling, and being buffeted by ocean waves.  Read More

ThinkGeek has announced the NES-inspired iCade 8-Bitty - the latest in its range of retro ...

Let's make no bones. With the announcement of its iCade 8-Bitty gamepad for iPhone, iPad and Android, ThinkGeek is not merely evoking the 8-bit era with an 80s-styled peripheral. It is specifically emulating the controller of the original Nintendo Entertainment System and in doing so, recreating (or trying to, at least) a classic piece of controller design. It would have been fascinating to be a fly on the wall in the conference room at ThinkGeek HQ when a name for the product - it's hard to imagine that the name iCade Nessy was not discussed.  Read More

Alesis has unveiled the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex - with a built-in accel...

Noted rock vocalist and bass player Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and more recently Black Country Communion) has often been quoted as saying that, for him, much of the 1980s was just a blur. It's probably just as well, or he might have had a hard time dealing with the emergence of the keytar - a strap-on keyboard that has a little neck with a number of parameter-changing buttons on it. Okay, I admit it, I'm not a great fan of the Jan Hammers and Jean-Michel Jarres of this world, but those who want to emulate these digital music innovators without digging deep for a Korg, Roland or Moog original can now rejoice with the release of the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex from Alesis.  Read More

SteelSeries' Ion Controller is almost as compact as a typical smartphone

Every CES puts the most prominent tech trends on show, and this year was no exception, though some were a bit more visible than others. After the unveiling of arcade-style attachments for smartphones and tablets, a no-glasses 3D tablet with an attachable controller, and a tablet aimed at the hardcore gaming crowd, it became pretty clear that one of these trends is to bridge the gap between high-quality console games and smart devices. However, none of these new devices have appeared quite as portable as the Ion Controller from SteelSeries, which connects through Bluetooth and is about the size of a deck of cards.  Read More

The 60beat GamePad plugs into iDevices via their 3.5 mm headphone jack

While the success of Apple’s iDevices has prompted a swathe of games perfectly suited to a touchscreen interface, many types of games suffer when making the transition from a controller-based interface. As a result we’ve seen a number of peripherals designed to add a physical controller to iOS devices, such as the GameBone Pro, iControlPad and low-tech JOYSTICK-IT. Those looking for a slightly more traditional input device for their mobile gaming needs now have another product to consider in the form of the 60beat GamePad.  Read More

The Drone Station app lets users remotely pilot an AR.Drone quadricopter using video game ...

The AR.Drone quadricopter really is quite a nifty toy ... or tool ... or whatever you want to call it. Up until now, however, it could only be controlled by an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, an Android smartphone, or for the people who have one, a Linux PC. While those options weren’t exactly holding users back, the folks over at Drone Apps realized that a lot more would be possible if the aircraft could be piloted through an iMac or Macbook – most importantly, controllers such as joysticks and gamepads could be used. The result is an OS X application called Drone Station.  Read More

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