XOPAD open source Android USB controller gets into the game
February 5, 2013
As smartphones become more akin to pocket-laptops, the evolution of mobile gaming is also forging ahead, going far beyond such classics as Tetris and Frogger. Yet touch screen control for complex gaming is inhibitive, and sometimes it’s just downright clumsy. XOPAD, a USB-based controller for Android phones, is looking to join a growing list of products that turn your smartphone into a fully-fledged hand-held gaming machine. The creators are also aiming to make it open-source for developers.
Currently part of a Kickstarter campaign, the XOPAD for Android controller is resizable and will accept any size phone up to the Samsung Galaxy Note II – currently the largest Android smartphone available. Unlike previous offerings such as the iControlPad and the PhoneJoy Play, the XOPAD does data-transfer and power via USB rather than a combination of Bluetooth for data and USB for power. The benefit of this is you can charge your phone (and the controller) while you play, instead of draining it by using Bluetooth. And when away from power sources, the controller offers extended hours of gameplay by keeping your phone charged via its own 3,000 mAh lithium battery.
Offering a similar layout to the ergonomically pleasing controllers used on bigger consoles, it has full audio support via USB to the stereo speakers, which is fed from the phone placed in its middle section. It also sports twin analog joysticks and no less than twelve push-buttons and triggers, which should be more than enough to keep most gamers (and game designers) happy.
XOPAD is one of many devices now utilizing Android’s on-the-go (OTG) protocols for Android 3.1 or higher, and also the Android Open Accessory (AOA) protocol released in versions 4.1 or higher. Both of these Human Interface Device (HID) protocols let your Android phone act in host-mode for other peripheral devices, instead of your phone being relegated to a peripheral-only device. The list of games natively supporting HID protocols is expanding, with many popular titles already included for use with joysticks via USB.
Though, in terms of open-source development, the XOPAD controller can be used as a host or as a peripheral accessory. This opens the door for other developers to create further upgrades and implement new ideas down the track, thanks to the accessible firmware within the unit. As an added plus, no rooting of your device is required.
The XOPAD project is ready for manufacturing to market and is currently running it’s Kickstarter campaign to raise funding. Pledging US$50 plus shipping will snag you a black XOPAD provided the $110,000 goal can be reached. With 25 days to run at the time of writing, the campaign still has some way to go and stands at just under $3,000. Click on the source link or watch the video below to find out more.