Unexpected Uses for Gaming Controllers

gaming_controllers_notcot_new.jpgGame controllers today are so much more than just ways to play with your Wii, Xbox, PS3, etc. In fact, they have been hacked and incorporated into all types of uses from playful interactive digital puppet walls to robotic chairs for kids, DJing controls to creating amazing visual effects for music videos, 3d cameras in the subway to posing and 3d printing a mini souvenir of yourself, swinging to control the stars around you to creating graffiti with your eyes, controlling your lawnmower to gesturing to browse CT scans during surgery, and so much more! In NOTCOT‘s new NOTlabs, we are fascinated with what is possible, and pushing these digital/physical boundaries. When the Microsoft Kinect came out, I used it to control an RC helicopter with gestures, as well as a giant industrial manufacturing robot mimicking my motions, creating light art. Below is an overview of some of the incredible projects happening, it is incredibly inspiring to imagine what else can be done! (Lots of fun videos, enjoy!)

gaming1.jpgHere’s a look at two of my projects using the Microsoft Kinect. Robotic Mimicry is a project about new ways of interacting with machines that make the things we have. In this case, the Kinect is used to sense where my hand is in 3d and feed that data to the robot. The gestures are then turned into light art with the robot arm mimicking the hand’s motions with a light attached to it. In kRC, the Kinect was used in place of the typical remote control interface for a helicopter. This, interestingly enough, makes for a far more intuitive interaction for moving the copter around in a space – you move your hand and the helicopter flies.

1. The Unexpected with the Kinect

The Microsoft Kinect came out in November 2010 and introduced a previously pricey technology to your home. Massive amounts of people realized this had potential outside of gaming and it was only a matter of time until this revolutionary technology would find its way into other scenarios. Sure enough, the open-source community released tools that allowed you to use this device without an Xbox, making it a very cheap 3d camera for consumers. As this video makes clear, the result of this new tool set was massive and diverse. Projects spanned many uses including new visualization methods, music videos, 3d image capturing, physics simulations, virtual puppets, robotics, and gestural controls.  

2. Interactions for KIDS!
gaming2.jpgOne of the great capabilities of new gaming technology is the ability to sense the entire body, like that of the Kinect or the Wii Balance Board. What better way to explore this interaction then to design experiences for kids running around being playful? Design I/O is notorious for making amazing children’s installations that include interactive puppets, trees, and animals. In their newest installation, Puppet Parade, children can control larger-than-life puppets or interact with them by petting or creating food for them to eat. Perhaps you want something for an even younger child, well then the Tots on Bots team at Ithaca College has just what you need. Using a baby chair, a Wii Balance Board, and a small mobile robot this team aims to make infants mobile. As the child leans towards whatever their heart desires, the Balance Board senses which direction and tells the robot to move slowly towards it. Once the baby has the object in possession and relaxes, the robots stops and waits to receive the next commands. The future looks awesome for kids! 

3. Musical Uses!


Music videos are always packed with the newest visualizations, so it is no surprise that the Kinect’s unique view was soon accompanying music. The 3d data set from Kinect, with a little software, can make compelling graphics, like that of Moullinex’s Catalina video. You can also find gaming tech in the studio being used to make music. Music maker and hacker Daito Manabe uses the WiiMote as a new interface for Dj’ing. The result is a new form of music making that requires the body unlike any other instrument. 

Jean Aw / NOTCOT
Jean Aw
JEAN AW Founder of NOTCOT: Concept, Content & Creative, Editor-In-Chief of the NotEmpire*. . . Design Addict + UX Designer + Shopaholic + Tech Connoisseur + Design Writer + World Traveler *NotEmpire = not an empire, composed of NOTCOT.com, NOTCOT.org, NotCouture.com, and Liqurious.com
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