Gamer hardware to turn war into a game

Posted by Nigel Constantine

An outfit that makes 3-D touch controllers for video and computer games has just been recruited by the US Army to make controls for its war droids.

According to CNET the idea is that PacBot operators to tell exactly how hard a robot's grip is, allowing soldiers to more safely pick up and handle fragile or dangerous objects. Novint Technologies has been awarded a subcontract to co-develop a remote touch kit for the iRobot unmanned ground vehicle PacBot.

The soldier would feel the bumps and jerks when driving the robot, thus improving performance over rugged terrain. The operator would also "feel" when the robot's arm touches a wire which is handy when the robots try to defuse bombs.

Novint Technologies' CEO Tom Anderson said that as the demand for unmanned military robots continues to grow, Novint's touch technology will play a crucial role in enhancing operator control during mission-tasks such as bomb disposal or surveillance.

Novint already makes technology that allows for interactive, bi-directional, high-fidelity 3-D that enables doctors and technicians to interact with medical imagery. The main technology is dubbed Haptics, which means touching a virtual object seems real and tangible.