Fans of the arcade classic Lethal Enforcers, with its blue and pink plastic guns, will be delighted at recent advances in the realm of video game pistols. The gun is still plastic, but now it's attached to the Novint Falcon, a complex I/O device that conveys tactile information from software to a set of motors in the the conical base, allowing the user to feel the computer's simulation of texture. Pretty cool! While Novint originally developed the device as a way for peripherals to respond to the tactile data in MRIs and other forms of medical imaging, earlier this year they released a version designed to kill off the traditional mouse, as falcons are wont to do.
But now they're doing truly important work: making first-person shooters more realistic. Here at the E for All Expo, they're showing off prototypes of pistol-grip attachments like the one above—the normal round grip swaps out for the pistol easily. And since Novint has modded Half Life Two to communicate with the gun, you get the experience of blasting away while contending with actual gun kick. The gun might be released commercially at the end of the year, or maybe sometime next year—they're still trying to decide how many buttons to have in addition to the trigger.
While the recoil isn't as strong as a real gun's would be, it's definitely palpable and it made me imagine future versions where shooter I/O gets even more tactile—for example, a gun might start heating up after repeated firing. I asked Novint's Greg Schroeder to turn up the recoil to the highest level in software and unleash his inner Schwarzenegger for the camera.—Andrew Rosenblum