Microsoft patents pressure-sensitive controller

Microsoft has registered a patent for a pressure-sensitive controller, which could store pressure signatures to log users into a console.

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Hardware manufacturers seem intent on making new controller types. Now that each of the big gaming companies have at least dabbled with motion controls, biometric feedback seems to be the next big thing. Sony is looking into biometric controllers to measure factors like sweat and heart rate. Not to be outdone, Microsoft is apparently considering a pressure-sensitive controller.

The company has registered a US Patent (8,172,675) for a controller with a "pressure-sensitive exterior surface." The patent suggests that device memory could store the output signatures to identify users simply by how they grip the controller. And confirming that these plans relate to gaming, the patent also mentions the device as "a game controller that interacts with a game console service."

The patent makes repeated mention of the controller being used for identification, but doesn't go much deeper than that. Microsoft could potentially find gaming utilities, but doesn't seem to be going in that direction with the initial patent application. As always, a patent doesn't mean a product will ever come to market.

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  • reply
    May 9, 2012 11:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Microsoft patents pressure-sensitive controller.

    Microsoft has registered a patent for a pressure-sensitive controller, which could store pressure signatures to log users into a console.

    • reply
      May 9, 2012 11:53 AM

      Does anyone remember how the pressure-sensitivity of the PS3's buttons was supposed to be a huge deal? I think in MGS4 there were certain actions where SOFTLY pressing the button did stuff.

      Man that was a pain. I hated it. Hahaha.

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        May 9, 2012 12:07 PM

        Hands-down, the BEST use of Sony's pressure-sensitive face buttons was Gran Tourismo/racing games. Having a button that didn't cramp up my finger like the awful trigger throttle on other systems (Looking at you Xbox/Forza!) AND was more responsive than a trigger was a total Godsend.

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          May 9, 2012 1:56 PM

          if holding the triggers crap your hands more than buttons then there is something wrong with your hand.

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          May 9, 2012 2:05 PM

          Yeah I hate using the massively deep triggers on the 360 controller for speed control.

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            May 9, 2012 2:06 PM

            Those pull triggers make my hands really sore after a few hours.

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          May 9, 2012 3:43 PM

          I prefer using R2 for throttle, and square for brake, since I can concentrate on brake timing. I still feel awkward in Forza 4 with LT as brake, because it messes up my steering, and I can never time braking correctly without messing up the steering. And I feel completely baffled by the racing wheel, since I can't feel the car's directional forces; having only force feedback on the wheel doesn't help me that much (sometimes it disorients more than it helps).

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        May 9, 2012 12:33 PM

        i think your thinking of ps2 and mgs3...

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          May 9, 2012 12:38 PM

          mgs2 did it first!

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            May 9, 2012 4:45 PM

            MGS2 used this well! I'm surprised that didn't inspire devs to do other cool shit with it.

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        May 9, 2012 1:21 PM

        Yeah, they made a big deal about that... but even back then I remember thinking... how useful is it to have analog buttons when the thing only has a fraction of a millimeter of movement? The amount of places where you can take advantage of that seem fairly small.

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        May 9, 2012 4:08 PM

        *watches Snake grab a dude, presses X softly, Snake slits his throat instead of doing a proper interrogation*

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      May 9, 2012 1:14 PM

      Oh cool, so now when I die/crash/fuckup for the umpteenth time and grip the controller so hard it creaks, the console can suggest I take a break and go outside?

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        May 9, 2012 2:01 PM

        Nope, because for some people the message will appear so many times that the console will treat it as spam and auto lock itself xD.

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        May 9, 2012 3:48 PM

        lol this i the first thing I thought, too

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        May 9, 2012 4:05 PM

        ...in reaction to which, in that mental state, I would probably rip the power and video cords out of the 360 and chuck it out the window.

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      May 9, 2012 3:41 PM

      The original XBox had pressure-sensitive face buttons, so a "light" press would register differently from a "hard" press. The concept was interesting, but in practice it was frustrating, because you couldn't distinguish between a light press or a hard press in a tactile way. I remember Dead or Alive 3 having a combo system that keyed on how hard the button was pressed, but if you couldn't repeatably pull off combos because what you thought was a hard press actually registered as a light press, you'd throw the wrong combo (which is probably part of why DOA3 gameplay was a button-mashfest).

      From that experience, and from most Kinect games not making a truly innovative use of the technology, I'm not optimistic about this being applied in a satisfying manner. At this point, it feels like Microsoft is throwing anything they can at their games division, no matter how bizarre or unintuitive the idea may be.

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      May 9, 2012 6:43 PM

      Now they just need to make it so when I hold the controller sideways and press the arrow button harder, it makes the car steer harder!

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      May 10, 2012 4:43 PM

      I do like the idea of controllers continuing to improve, the idea of picking up a controller and auto sign in is pretty cool... what if I want to sign out because I don't want anyone seeing me play Barbie's Pony Island!!!? Imagine completing the next From software or Halo game on legendary only to realise it was on someone else's profile because the xbox thought you were someone else?