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Games Hardware

Thermoelectrics Could Let You Feel the Heat In Games 102

myshadows writes "Tech Review has an interesting article on how Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers have been able to give a sensory addition to gaming peripherals — namely, temperature. 'As the range of interactions with digital environments expands, it's logical to ask what's next: Smell-o-vision has been on the horizon for something like 50 years, but there's a dark horse stalking this race: thermoelectrics. Based on the Peltier effect, these solid-state devices are easy to incorporate into objects of reasonable size, i.e. video game controllers. In this configuration, just announced at the 2010 SIGGRAPH conference, a pair of thermoelectric surfaces on either side of a controller rapidly heat up or cool down in order to simulate appropriate conditions in a virtual environment.'"
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Thermoelectrics Could Let You Feel the Heat In Games

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  • OK, here comes the flood of post about...errmm...adult gaming. Remember, it says, "these solid-state devices are easy to incorporate into objects of reasonable size,"
    • by d474 ( 695126 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:16PM (#33076984)
      It's not the size of your joystick that counts, it's how HOT it gets!

      Truth be told, I have not yet been able to verify my hypothesis on this matter with a willing test subject.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yeah, haha, genitals.

      Personally, I'd be more interested in alternate sensory input: embedded (or glued for a less permanent effect) magnets [wired.com] and er... vibrating compass belt [wired.com].

      Ideas for gameplay connect? Belt might be neat for spider sense....

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plastbox ( 1577037 )

        Finally! Someone besides myself who posts something related to sensory substitution/augmentation! ^^

        The compass belt would be a cool add-on to a lot of games. Make one that works like the linked one (with real world input) but add a Bluetooth interface so you can also get information from games and such. From what I've read about the (crazy) level of integration with these types of devices, I'd bet something like that would add a very decent upgrade to the sense of immersion (if not exactly useful informat

        • Where did you attach the electrodes? In the ear? I think I'll have to try this since I'm not sure what sort of ingame use it would have except to maybe give you a sense of actually turning or moving as one with your ingame avatar.

          Another sensory input I remember is sonar readings, 360 around, for divers through their tongue [msn.com]. Obviously not something for a pick up & play, pass the controller multiplayer game but as a specialized thing, an alternative vision sense, I would really be interested in a game

          • No, I attached the electrodes where the electrodes are supposed to go (TRFL || google), namely on the bony "knob" directly behind the ear. It really is worth trying. It doesn't give you the sense of turning, it "pulls" you to either side (depending in the direction of the current) in a very strange way.

        • Ah, much better ideas! That compass belt could be handy for letting you know where you're being shot from, similar to the system currently used in FPSes where an edge of the screen glows red.

          Smell-o-vision would not be a positive experience overall. How many good things do you smell IRL? I guess it could improve immersion but it definitely wouldn't be enjoyable.

  • I think the air force tried something like this and it all most killed some one.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think Joe The Dragon tried to rape a small child once.

      Random, vague, unverifiable claims are fun.

      • I think this sounds like fun, and I agree with most posters that smell would be better, but I also agree with joe the dragon that there are dangers. The danger with smells is that they are immensely powerful emotional and sub-conscious triggers and the number of people that have trouble differentiating games from reality (presently an almost non existent minority) would skyrocket.

        As far as this technology goes the dangers are not actually random, vague or unverifiable. Despite the post above being so. Any c

        • For my part, I fit the "sweaty geek"-cliché all too well when the weather starts getting warm (except I shower and stuff). Having some form of active cooling in my keyboard/gamepad/mouse would easily be far more awesome than heating because after a few rounds of high paced console gaming, I tend to get somewhat sweaty palms. Something like this [metku.net] perhaps?
  • The real use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:10PM (#33076928)

    Games? Bring on the thermoelectric Fleshlight!

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh ( 1318603 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:15PM (#33076972)
    Try making the thermoelectrics demonstrate the thermal grill illusion [wikipedia.org] and you can convince the holder that he's been burned. I touched one of these at the Museum of Science & Industry, and I still remember it decades later.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Twinbee ( 767046 )

      This would be an ideal research ground for the philosophical testing of pain without any long term real physical consequences. I wonder if one could get used to the pain signals after a while.

      • by genner ( 694963 )

        This would be an ideal research ground for the philosophical testing of pain without any long term real physical consequences. I wonder if one could get used to the pain signals after a while.

        Yes you can get used to rather quick if you tough it out,
        Yes I've done it..
        Yes it is a cool story
        I'm not your bro.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

        I wonder if one could get used to the pain signals after a while.

        Only if you are human [wikipedia.org].

  • by thomasdz ( 178114 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:17PM (#33076988)

    As I'm hit and fall into the pit of lava, the safety overrides fail and suddenly, yeah, my peripherals are trying their best to get me up to a thousand degrees C.
    THIS is why I continue to play Nethack.

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:17PM (#33077002) Homepage
    The controller with pain feedback in Never Say Never Again:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUw9BJS06NI [youtube.com]
  • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:20PM (#33077044)
    .. and then there will be cake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:22PM (#33077058)

    Wouldn't it be lovely if the controller could deal electric shocks? Or pretend-drown the player? "Because we can" isn't always sufficient justification.

    • I've often thought that electric shocks would be helpful for increasing game learning speed. Zap FPS players whenever they die; pain avoidance is a powerful psychological tool.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Pain as negative reinforcement usually slows down learning, medieval superstitions aside, because it makes you hesitant to explore the parameter space.

    • by PSXer ( 854386 )

      Hey, it worked for the Painstation [wikipedia.org]

      During the game, the players place their left hands on the PEU (Pain Execution Unit) which serves as a sensor and feedback instrument. Possible feedback effects are heat impulses, an electric shock and an integrated miniature wire whip. The feedback generated is dependent on the playing process and can increase in its intensity. The respective opponent can try to alter his or her playing style to purposely change the intensity of the feedback.

    • "Because we can" isn't always sufficient justification.

      It's like all the games that make the controller shake/vibrate just for the sake of it. I hate it. Driving game? Let's make the controller shake non-stop until the players hands go numb, he'll feel like he's actually in the car! I always turn that stuff off.

      The only time I like it is when it provides useful feedback. Like if another car bumps into mine or if I'm scraping the wall.

    • I can't find it now, but I remember reading about an Xbox controller modded with electric force feedback. They ran bolts from the inside to the outside of the controller in the "handle" areas that would carry the charge to the player. IIRC a cattle prod's power supply was used to provide the shock.

  • Make a game that comes with one of these:

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/07/27/1619255/Heat-Ray-Gun-Fails-Final-Test-Nixed-From-War [slashdot.org]

    or a waldo-controlled sword for the fantasy MMORPG otaku.

  • ... it's incorporated into a whole-body gaming suit. The old "feeling on the back of the neck" when you're being watched (at least above level 6) and the "something evil this way comes" chill in the 'nads for approaching undead ...
  • by Foobar_ ( 120869 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @06:25PM (#33077126)

    Some people have the circulation in their fingers and toes close off when their skin gets cold, which results in ischemia followed by inflammation once the circulation returns. Repeated events cause skin damage, connective tissue atrophy, and eventually you might lose your fingers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud's_disease [wikipedia.org]

  • We gonna go back to smell-o-vision next?

    This isn't even remotely appealing to me.

  • I guess this old drum printer I still have connected must be REALLY cutting edge technology. It's on fire!
  • I'm not sure how you could really add it to a controller as since it's a heat pump. The top of the controller will get hot while the bottom cold (or vise-versa). A suit might be interesting since unlike a controller you would only be exposed to one side of the TEC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      TECs can "switch sides" depending on the direction of current flow. They are horribly inefficient; but that(along with their small size and solid-stateness) is one of the things that makes them fun to play with.

      Connect the DC source one way, and this is the cold side, connect it the other way, now that is the hot side. It's the reason that they are generally used in the cheezy little heater/cooler units you can get for in-car use.
      • by aXis100 ( 690904 )

        You're missing the point. They are a pump that moves heat from one side to the other - so if you try and made the underside of a controller cold, the other side of the peltier will get very hot and you'll have to dissipate that somewhere.

        Personally I think it's a stupid idea. Who wants to have cold or hot hands whilst playing a game?

        • I'd agree on the "stupid idea" part; but the hot side problem is relatively trivial.

          Larger controllers(like serious joysticks) wouldn't even need to change external appearance much. Just make the feet a little taller, to allow a gap around the base for airflow, and shove a CPU cooler and fan on the side that isn't heat-sunk by the gamer.

          Smaller items would be ugly(ie. protruding heatsinks, tiny fans whining away, drafts of hot air whistling through little plastic slits) if not done quite elegantly; bu
          • Were you trying for a nightmare inducing description of small format CPU coolers, or was that just incidental?
            • I was using a Latitude C840 [dell.com] thermal assembly, taken from a unit on the junk heap, for reference and I guess that I just couldn't stop all the old hatred flowing back...

              A relic from the days when Intel was selling P4"m" as a suitable laptop processor, and laptop cooling systems were still relatively crude. In this case, the actual passive unit isn't bad(it actually has a certain aesthetic charm); but the two 30ish millimeter fans(one to buzz, one to whine) that labored to suck dust through the thing were
  • The more fps you generate, the more heat the cpu and gpu put out.

    Or all you guys into fapping at porn, just put your laptop on your ... um ... lap. "No pain, no gain", right?

  • I thought SIGGRAPH was the Association for Computin Machinery's Special Interest Group for Graphics. However, last week's story about computing the sound of fracturing materials, and this story about replicating heat - apparently SIGGRAPH has upped their game. They are now the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques.
  • Well actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grimbleton ( 1034446 ) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @07:25PM (#33077724)

    My system is AMD-based. I ALREADY feel the heat.

  • You kind of say that's nice, and never really see it used anywhere again.
    I liked the haptic camera: it pushes some rods into you palm depending on the camera illumination. I've heard of developing this for blind people. But its easy to sense these patterns after just a few seconds.
  • Why, for the love of god, is this not tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong"?

    If *any* topic recently has deserved it, this is it.

  • Cooking Mama cooks you!
  • Honestly I really hate excess heat in any kind of computer controller. My old Mac "Wallstreet" G3 laptop had the trackpad button get really hot, and that was a major reason I stopped using the machine.

    I've used fancy mice with lights that would heat up, and it's just not a good feeling.

    I generate quite enough heat on my own thanks very much, so the only thing that sounds useful here would be permanent cooling, and that's going to require a fan to get rid of the heat after you pull it off with the peltier.


  • My hands already are sweaty when I'm playing, more heat coming from the controller is NOT something I'm looking for.

  • The design for this is two giant hotplates but instead of having temperature controls there are all of the buttons and controls from a 360 controller. We hope that we can teach kids not to touch hot things like stoves. Hey, maybe parents could be given a remote and if their child refuses to quit playing video games or move out of their basement, they could jack the heat up so the kid either melts his hands to the controller (which he would likely be happy about) or put the controller down.
  • Otherwise I'd have to wait until a couple patches are released for any game that supports this. Many games are released with a range of bugs, as we already know. And I predict future bugs will include new features like: burning/freezing the skin off your hands.
  • This would put a whole new spin on the Immolate spell in World of Warcraft...
  • I do feel the heat from my gaming.

    I7 proc, dual vid cards in sli.

    Shit gets hot.

    Plus it's summer, and I don't have no air conditioning.

    What I don't want, is more fucking heat.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.