Immersion announces vibration chip for next-gen game controllers

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Immersion announces vibration chip for next-gen game controllers

San Jose (CA) – Immersion today said that it will offer an updated version of its “Touchsense” vibration chip technology that is compatible with motion-sensitive controllers of upcoming game consoles. The announcement comes after Sony confirmed that it would drop the vibration feature from its PS3 controllers due to strong inferences with the new tilt sensing feature.

Motion sensitive controllers promise to become one of the most apparent reasons to buy a Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3 game console. The fact that the capability of detecting hand movements conflicts with existing vibration technologies and has forced for example Sony to remove its “Dualshock” feature from PS3 controllers has left many wondering how much of a benefit tilt sensing will really be.

At least for the future, vibration may be returning to game controllers. Immersion said that it has found a solution to integrate an updated “Touchsense” vibration capability into controllers, even if they also offer motion sensitivity. Previously, we were told, vibration confused motion sensors and basically disabled tilt sensing. Immersion now claims that its new technology can separate physical impacts caused by a vibration chip and a human hand. “Because the speed at which a user moves the controller is much slower than the frequencies generated by Touchsense technology, the two signals can be differentiated using filtering and other techniques,” the company said.

According to Immersion, the new chip allows for crisper and shorter duration vibrations as well as impacts that are more closely spaced and differ in strength. “Shorter, crisper effects allow the feel of machine gun fire to be more staccato-like and also more closely synchronized with the sounds and appearance of realistic gun fire. New levels of strength and variation allow gamers to feel the accelerating surge of powering up a light saber, followed by the transition to a subtle hum, then the jolt of clashing with their opponent’s light saber,” the firm said.

Sony apparently will not use the technology in the PS3 controller. In a press release, the firm stated that “pursuant to the introduction of this new six-axis sensing system, the vibration feature that is currently available on Dualshock and Dualshock2 controllers for PlayStation and PlayStation 2, will be removed from the new PS3 controller as vibration itself interferes with information detected by the sensor.”

While Immersion and Sony are still tangled up in a patent infringement filed by Immersion, the vibration chip maker hopes that its technology will make it into the game console at some point: “Our new technology supplies a dramatic improvement in the action that gamers feel. We believe it is an innovation the market deserves to have in next-generation consoles,” said Vic Viegas, chief executive officer of Immersion in a prepared statement. Representatives from Immersion, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were not available to comment on possible integration plans of the chip in current or upcoming game console controllers.