The rest of the gaming industry has gotten awfully jealous of all the money Nintendo is making with their Wii and all its unconventional controllers. Now everybody wants on board the Wiimote/Balance Board gravy train, and sure enough Sony and Microsoft have their own motion controls on the way.
But thanks to some lesser known, state-of-the-art gaming peripherals, other companies are way ahead on game controller innovation. Way, way ahead, into a land where only the crazy people dwell.
Virtual reality has long been the Holy Grail of the video gaming world, because for some reason nothing less than total digital immersion is acceptable in a future where we haven't even figured out how to clone dinosaurs or get our cars to fly.
While most engineers are content with perfecting futuristic headsets and handheld devices to approximate virtual reality, the inventors of the Virtusphere seek to take the notion one step further, a phrase which here means "locking players inside a giant hamster ball."
The Virtusphere is a 10-foot hollow sphere housed on a special platform that is covered in wheels, allowing encased players to walk, run and roll around in a virtual environment viewed entirely through a wireless headset, sort of like that time you taped a Scooby Doo viewmaster to your face when you were nine and ran around in your backyard pretending you were in the Mystery Machine.
This is what fun used to look like.
While we fully support massive unwieldy devices constructed purely for entertainment, a gigantic metal ball noisily grinding around on castor wheels isn't going to fit inside most people's living rooms (you'd have trouble fitting the damn thing in a high school gymnasium).
Even if your house had a big enough room to fit this expensive monstrosity in it, if just one wheel slips you're going to go crashing through the wall trapped inside a hollow boulder like the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Or like a pitcher full of sugar water.
And honestly, we'd pay a lot more for that experience.
7OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator
OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator is a headband that looks like something the space hippies from that old Star Trek episode would wear. According to the company, it "translates the electrical biosignals of your body directly into computer commands."
So that means it can totally read your mind and help you rule Modern Warfare 2 with an iron mental fist, right?
Well, not exactly. The NIA can't translate direct thoughts, so screaming, "SHOOT THE DAMN NAZI!" in your head over and over isn't going to do anything.
"WIN, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" also will not work.
The device doesn't even read brain waves like other emerging technologies claim to. No, all the NIA does is monitor muscle twitches in your face and translates them into on-screen actions. Sometimes.
The idea is that our bodies subconsciously twitch in response to certain stimulus (such as seeing a zombie come into view) and the NIA can translate those spasms into activating the fire button before your brain can tell your finger to move, thus reducing reaction times.
This wink translates to "Kill hooker with a baseball bat."
However, you'd still need a mouse and keyboard to play the game, leading us to wonder what the fucking point of the peripheral is at all, especially when you consider the device has to be calibrated every single time you want to play, which can take up to an hour or more. At least it makes for a pretty boss headband.