Sixense's New Controller Hits Kickstarter, May Be Oculus Rift's Best Friend

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Steve Anderson
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Sixense's New Controller Hits Kickstarter, May Be Oculus Rift's Best Friend

While there has been plenty of attention paid around the launch of the Oculus Rift lately—still a forthcoming event at last report—there's the issue of controllers that will work well with the incredible visual display system. While some have suggested standard gamepads, and others have turned to massive conglomerations of treadmills, Sixense Entertainment is out to get in on the action itself with a new kind of controller, and it's looking for funding to get it up and running with Kickstarter.

The Sixense controller—which for right now appears to be named the STEM—uses motion sensing capability to figure out its current location, and then translates the relevant movement the controller undertakes into motion in the game itself. Technology behind the Sixense concept—which appears to be largely driven by magnets—has actually been around for some time, with names like Razer and Valve working with it previously. But thanks to the rise of the Oculus Rift, the idea of a control mechanism that can work in a three-dimensional space has taking on a whole new level of importance.

Right now, the controller of choice for use with the Oculus Rift—at least, as expressed by those with developer kits—has been the Razer Hydra. This controller, that uses the Sixense technology, has proven a sound if somewhat flawed fit for the Oculus Rift. The flaw in the Hydra comes when the fact that it has wires is considered, and that's driving Sixense to try and get together a wireless version of its technology for use with the Oculus Rift.

Given that the Sixense is also said to work with the Virtuix Omni Treadmill, it may well be that the grand triumvirate of virtual reality is starting to shape up, and it may further be that, one day, we'll be looking at a bundle set of all three devices in one to get interest around what amounts to a complete virtual reality system in one fell swoop. There's no report as yet that suggests that this is likely—or even possible for that matter—but the idea of offering clearly complementary technologies together as a bundle for easier access and integration into current systems is not at all out of line.

In general, the idea that virtual reality is coming to homes—and coming fairly soon by the look of it—is generating new challenges, and new products and solutions emerging geared toward taking those challenges on in the fullest sense. While the Sixense STEM technology may not be the weapon of choice in virtual reality, or may never see the light of day if the Kickstarter doesn't go well, it's a safe bet that something's going to come along to do the job, and the days of gaming on televisions may be behind us, a development that itself may not sit well with console developers. Consider Microsoft's attempts to take the living room; what happens if gaming leaves the living room entirely?

It's an exciting time to be a gamer, make no mistake about that, and with new developments arriving almost every day, it's a great time to watch all these developments unfold.
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