What If The iPhone Was More Like A Game Boy?

That was what inspired Melbourne designer Chris Peters to build the iPhone Game Pad, a sleek casing with proper buttons that turns Apple's device into the perfect portable gaming system.

Peters tells us he imported an iPhone at launch, jailbroke it and began playing around with all the free apps he could find. One such app was a Game Boy emulator. As a devout retro gamer, Peters says the iPhone's touchscreen controls simply didn't cut it for the fast-moving action games he wanted to play via emulation.

"Not having tactile feedback or physical buttons led to some very frustrating times, especially when you reached that crucial point in the game and you thought you pushed a button and nothing happened!" says Peters.

"Lets just say that iPhone is lucky to still be in one piece after a few of those incidents."

So in an effort to avoid the destruction of his newly imported toy, Peters decided the iPhone would be a much better gaming device if it had real buttons.

"Shortly after that the idea for the Game Pad hit me," he explains. "Don't get me wrong, I love the touchscreen interface, it's just that some games are better with real buttons.

"I grew up playing the original hand held Nintendo Game & Watch devices with awesome titles like Bomb Sweeper and Donkey Kong. You could play those games super fast and if you knew some levels you could play them with your eyes shut just going by feel and sound.

"The new games designed for a touch interface are amazing but you just can't replace the experience of real buttons. The one thing touchscreens are missing is haptic feedback. If you could make a touchscreen that allowed you to feel the buttons and them push them, you'd have one hell of an interface."

A challenge Peters faced was nailing the design so it didn't add too much bulk to the device.

"If you can't carry it around in your pocket then it's not really a portable gaming unit," says Peters. "To keep it compact we spent a lot of time refining the electronics to make them as small as possible. The case design had to fit around the phone as well as house all the electronics so the design was driven by the constraints of the hardware."

Once the design had been perfected for the original iPhone, he was able to fine-tune it, making it smaller again for the 3G/3GS models.

It wasn't the only challenge he had to overcome, however; Apple themselves were a major stumbling block. Peters says that despite coming up with the Game Pad prototype a few years ago, it's only due to recent Apple policy changes that he has been able to start looking at taking the product to market.

"Apple originally had very tight restrictions on allowing hardware to talk to software," says Peters. "But a lot of that has changed recently. Apple must have seen the possibilities for hardware interfaces and have relaxed the rules making a product like this very feasible. Hence the surfacing of our design [in yesterday's video] ."

"We're in discussions with companies that have expressed interested in becoming partners in the commercial development of the device," says Peters when asked what the future holds for his Game Pad. "As you can imagine, a product like this needs a fair bit of capital and good contacts to make sure it hits the ground running so we are exploring all opportunities before we make any commitments."

iPhone Game Pad [CP Designs]


Comments

    "The one thing touchscreens are missing is haptic feedback. If you could make a touchscreen that allowed you to feel the buttons and them push them, you’d have one hell of an interface.” So like an Android phone? Yeah ...

      Pointless pissing contest: denied.

      noob, he is talking about a touch screen that can physically warp programatically.

      and I agree, it would be awesome! they have already made some progress in this area, but it only allowed the screen to warp to one of several pre defined layouts.

      effectively, it would be awesome if you could programatically create bumps where your on screen buttons are!

    I agree that the touch screen controls are useless for a lot of retro games, but seriously, if you really want to play those games, buy a GBA off ebay and play them the way they were intended. Or, if you want to continue with the emulator/rom way of things, hack a PSP!

    I have an Android phone and enjoy playing the occasional rom, but it will never replace playing it on the original device, nor should it!

    Buttons -> Game future
    touch screen/pad -> office future

    when can i start throwing money at this guy?

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