Immersion introduces next-gen rumble tech

Haptic house reveals new rumble possibilities for next-gen systems; new TouchSense can be used with motion-sensitive controllers.

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Immersion Corporation may be best known to gamers for being involved in a long, bitter court case with Sony over copyright infringement (a case that Immersion won), but almost any gamer who has played a current-gen system has felt its product in their hands. TouchSense vibration technology is the engine behind rumble features in controllers, allowing controllers to vibrate in conjunction with actions on the screen.

Just as Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are making the transition to next-gen technology, so is Immersion. The company, which happens to be partially owned by Microsoft, today announced the latest version of TouchSense, which has been engineered for next-generation gaming.

The new technology uses one motor instead of the dual-motor system used in previous versions--with one motor, power consumption, physical space, and weight have all been reduced. The new TouchSense also provides a wider range of vibration effects, synching up with onscreen events more accurately to simulate different terrain when driving, the "springy sensation of hitting a tennis ball," and more-realistic gunfire.

Motion-sensing controllers may also be able to benefit from the new TouchSense. Sony dropped vibration from its PlayStation 3 controller, instead moving in favor of a motion-sensitive controller. Sony said the decision was made because the two technologies could not coexist in the same controller. Immersion puts this idea to rest with the new TouchSense, which uses "filtering and other techniques" to differentiate between the motions of the player moving the controller and the motion caused by rumbling.

Developers are also being targeted by Immersion through the ability to program specific effects directly into games, to which TouchSense will react to.

"Immersion Studio allows developers to deal in objects and inter-relationships like any modern programming language, freeing them from tedious low-level mechanics and letting them concentrate on integrating the vibration effects with graphics and sound," says Immersion VP Christophe Ramstein. "They can finally focus on the art of creating even more compelling vibrations."

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