Valve engineer creates controller for your tongue and butt

Ben Krasnow publishes videos showing off his recent controller inventions; posterior controller may be tied into Valve's VR efforts, he says.


Valve engineer Ben Krasnow has created two new controllers, and they are far from traditional. One is controlled using your tongue, and the other through your posterior.

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The tongue controller is described as a mouse that you control with the tip of your tongue.

It features a plastic, retainer-like housing that sticks to the top of your mouth. Moving your tongue across the sensor is just like moving your finger across the sensor of an optical mouse, he said. A wireless version would remove the need for wires to enter your mouth.

For precise x/y movements like cursor control on a screen, the tongue controller is probably not the best idea, Krasnow said. In the video, he demonstrates how the controller works playing FPS game Borderlands 2, and it does not go well. However, he said more practical applications could include using the tongue controller for swipe interfaces, carousel menus, and simple yes/no inputs.

As for the butt controller, this works by using ordinary bathroom scales. You sit on the controller and how you shift your weight and turn your body controls how a character in a game moves. Putting more weight on the front of the input makes the character move forward, while increasing pressure on the backside of the controller leads the character backwards.

Strafing from side-to-side also works. However, turning more than 180 degrees is impossible on the current iteration of the controller without also using a mouse, Krasnow said. In this video, he demonstrates how the input works for Borderlands 2, noting that while keyboard and mouse controls remain the best option for precision, the butt controller may be a viable option in some scenarios.

"One, it frees up your hand to do something else; to interact with the environment," he said.

Second, this type of controller works better for virtual reality, Krasnow said. He teased that this input may tie into the VR work he is currently doing at Valve. Check out the videos below for more on the controllers and the work that went into creating them.

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