NEWS - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

X360 Pad Upgrade Likely

It looks as though the Xbox 360 will be seeing an upgraded controller in the not too distant future, as Immersion Technologies shows its revised rumble feature to press for the first time. As you’ll know, Immersion is the company that played knuckle fights with both Sony and Microsoft and brought both mega corporations to their knees, forcing a buyout from the latter and trouncing the former in the courts. You can read exactly how this played out, and how Nintendo escaped Immersion’s wrath, by clicking here. Back on point, Microsoft is now a major shareholder in Immersion (around the 20% mark following follow-up investment on the $20 million original settlement, $6 million in share options and $9 million loan) and it does seem a cert that fresh technologies revealed by the company, originally founded on haptic devices in the medical field, will find their way into Xbox 360 or future Xbox controllers. According to reports surfacing, the new rumble unit was shown inside a standard Xbox controller and operated a modified version of Star Wars: Jedi Knight II for PC, a perfect game for highlighting the rumbler’s various capabilities. The first thing you should note is that Immersion’s latest creation uses only one motor rather than two, geared to spin an undisclosed number of weights. This makes it lighter on power as well as providing reduced weight. Immersion showed the pad in Lightsaber mode to outline the subtlety it can achieve when mimicking movement. The pad was also used to fire a rocket, with feedback active as the projectile tailed away and in machine-gun setup, all of which was well received. Perhaps most interesting is the soon-to-be released Immersion Studio, a piece of middleware aimed at helping developers add rumble features into games. The application works on any in-game action timeline in a similar way to how to Cubase, CakeWalk or any other sequencing tool visually depicts audio.


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