Motus Games has a controller that they are developing for gaming (consoles and PC’s). While it may look like the offspring of a Wii controller and a lighsaber, the company actually predates the Nintendo Wii by a number of years, being founded in 2001.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that this is where I think virtual world controllers need to go BEFORE these platforms will go mainstream. I’ve posted many stories about hacks to the Wii controller for the PC that held some promise for experimenting with this technology, and also articles on controllers like the Space Navigator (that STILL does not have a programmable driver for Second Life) for controlling your avatar. But the Darwin controller looks to be the first that may actually fill the need. I first posted on this back in the beginning of February, but there’s a lot more info out now.
Currently this controller is not available in retail outlets. There is a page at the Motus website that has an email address for requesting test units, and for getting on a priority list. I’ve already tossed PacRimX’s name into the list with an email to the company. I’m also going to pass this along to my friends as Sun who are developing the Darkstar/Wonderland environment, so they may consider adapting this to that platform.
The next evolution of the Internet cannot be dependent on keyboards and mice for its interface. My kids have had a Nintendo Wii from day one. I’ve had people as old as 67 pick up a Wii controller and play a round of bowling with little to no instruction. Try to do that with a PC, it’s not going to happen. Mitch Kapor’s comments in yesterday’s Metanomics interview focused on the difficulty of the Second Life environments, and the low user retention rates. Natural gesture based controls will go a lot further than any modifications to the interface in broadening the appeal and usefulness of these virtual environments. Add to this that students outside of the United States (like our Kyoto students) have difficulty adapting to the keyboard mouse combination, as they’ve always played games on consoles.
I’ll keep an eye on Motus Gaming and post additional information as it become available. Be sure to look at the bottom of the pages at the Motus site for a scrolling ticker of reviews of this controller from a variety of publications. I found this in MIT’s Technology Review Magazine this month.