Motion controllers make sense. You move various appendages, the game reacts and magic happens. But with this intense focus on cameras, infrared sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes, we totally forgot about sweat glands. A crazy omission, I know, but a company called Galvanic hopes to rectify the situation with a little gizmo called the “Personal Input Pod”, or PIP.
Playing games by perspiring? It’s not quite as gross as it sounds. According to Galvanic, the PIP is designed to react to the user’s stress levels by measuring the electrical conductivity of their skin. As a person sweats, the conductivity goes up and the PIP reads this as an increase in stress.
So not something you’d use after a workout or on a particularly hot day.
The PIP could be used for a variety of applications, though Gamasutra’s Mike Rose saw the peripheral demoed with two games — Relax and Race and Lie Detective. Now, the first one sounds a bit pants — two players race dragons using the PIP to control their speed, with stress slowing the creatures down.
Lie Detective, on the other hand, opens up some intriguing possibilities. The game is what it says on the tin — a basic lie detector test that uses the PIP to figure out if the player is fibbing or not. But imagine this being used in a competitive LA Noire-style title, with one player the cop and the other the criminal. The PIP could translate the latter’s stress level into visible facial and body animations, which the other player must watch out for.
It’s all a bit pie-in-the-sky and the device is limited as a controller otherwise (not to mention it’s only compatible with iOS and Android, at least for now), but innovation isn’t something that happens by itself.