Video: Valve engineer shows off tongue and bum-based input devices

Video: Valve engineer shows off tongue and bum-based input devices
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

December 6th 2013 at 7:54AM

Experimental designs might draw a laugh, but potential for disabled gamers is no joke

A Valve engineer has posted videos of some of the most inventive input devices that can be imagined, one controlled by the tongue, and the other takes commands from the user's bum.

Far from merely tounge 'n cheeks, these videos show Ben Krasnow get down and dirty with details of how his highly experimental controllers were created and explains their possible practical applications.

The tongue controlled device is quite limited at the moment and is only capable of registering “gross” movements or interfaces designed for swipe interactions.

This might not be the most practical device for gaming, but - though purely experimental at the moment - it could make a world of difference to disabled users.

It's not the first time Valve's talked about using the tongue with input devices; Gabe Newell mentioned his company's experiments with tongue-based controls when talking up the studio's investigations into wearable computing.

Arsing around with an Xbox 360 controller and a bathroom scale resulted in a device where a user controls the game quite literally by the seat of his pants.

Adding a hacked-up mouse and a swivel-chair action meant the bum-controller could not only turn a player left and right, but by shifting her weight a player could move her character forwards, backwards, and strafe left or right.

This has some obvious drawbacks – it's not nearly as fast as WASD navigation, and the player still needs a mouse to look up and down or to turn a full 180 degrees without losing sight of the screen – but it does point towards some interesting futures.

Again, this could have some real benefits to disabled gamers, but a more general audience could see similar tech used for virtual reality in the coming years.

Just imagine the possibilities of combining hands-free player movement with the Oculus Rift and it's not to hard to see that the idea has real merit, at least for hard-core VR.