Microsoft Research has released a paper where they detail a prototype mobile controller with modular capabilities as reported by Windows Central.
Mobile gaming has its fair share of peripherals, and Microsoft has cooked up a prototype of their own solution. A modular mobile controller was created that offers a range of options for players to mount it to their devices for an improved experience on handheld devices.
The paper in question details how the current state of mobile controllers boils down to touchscreen schemes or clamps that allow full-size controllers to be attached to your handheld device. While the touchscreen adaptations can work for some games, many other games require more precision than what you can get with a touchscreen. The controller clamps made by third-party manufacturers are often too bulky, compromising comfort and portability.
As a result of these issues, Microsoft Research has developed a modular controller system. The controller is separated into two halves containing the full range of buttons on a standard Xbox controller. Optional grips of different sizes can be attached for better stability or left off entirely. A charging dock can link the two halves of the controller together, either to keep the device powered or to use it just the same as you would any other controller.
Unfortunately, these prototypes were only used in limited testing. While anecdotal evidence showed that users preferred the prototypes over touchscreen controls, the researchers conceded that a wider study would need to be conducted in order to get useful data. This research was initially conducted between 2012 and 2014. The recent success of the Nintendo Switch and similar devices may have made Microsoft slightly more inclined to release the paper.
We don't yet know if this is an indication that they're working on a developing a retail product like this. There is clearly a gap in the market that could be filled by such a device. Whether or not Microsoft (or anyone else) will actually produce it is another matter. For now, we got a peek at a neat concept that may one day be something we can buy on store shelves.
What do you think of the concept controllers shown by Microsoft Research in their recent research paper? Would you like to buy such a device or would you prefer to use a standard controller for mobile gaming? Let us know in the comments below!