According to the classic gamer film of the 80s, “The Wizard”, Nintendo’s Power Glove was “so bad.” 80s parlance aside, it was a pretty terrible peripheral even if it did look pretty awesome. The XIO may be the new Power Glove or it could be what those of us hoped the Power Glove would be.
The brainchild of merged companies Novint and Forcetek Enterprises, the XIO is basically an exoskeleton sleeve that reaches half way to the shoulder, providing plenty of force feedback. As you can imagine, a device like this is likely designed primarily for first-person shooters, allowing the user to feel a simulation of recoil when firing a gun in-game. Likewise, more sophisticated feedback can put pressure on the arm, giving some semblance of weight as if you’re actually lugging around a weapon.
The video itself goes much more in-depth, the demonstrator adding a visor and force-feedback vest to engage more than just the right arm. As if that weren’t enough, a realistic prototype controller of an M4 carbine is used to control the in-game weapon. An infrared camera works with the visor to make the game’s camera/view move along with the player’s head movements. Another camera mounted on the shoulder works with the gun to allow precision aiming, but the XIO arm itself potentially allows one-to-one motion tracking within a game, allowing the user to map different actions to specific motions (grenade throwing, bomb defusing, door opening).
Accelerometers attached to the vest demonstrate how both walking and running can be done in-game by walking or running in place in real life. While not shown, the demonstrator also says that jumping would be possible too. Lastly, the different weapons are covered, with the M4 having dual analog and mouse controls for a fantastic level of control, and the M9 pistol essentially working as a mouse with a scroll wheel and buttons. It’s difficult to tell how much a rig like this would set one back, but we can hope that the technology takes off and becomes cost-effective. None of the demonstrations in the video use motion control such as the Kinect, so it would be interesting to see if such technology could be combined with the XIO and other peripherals for even better and more realistic motion tracking. For more exoskeleton action, have some flashbacks to “Aliens” with this Power Loader Exoskeleton or get the full-body experience with the Super Powered Exoskeleton.