Valve engineer builds mouth, bum controllers for gaming

Valve engineer Ben Krasnow has built alternative gaming controllers that are manipulated by the player's tongue and body weight.

Valve engineer Ben Krasnow has built alternative gaming controllers that are manipulated by the player's tongue and body weight.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

Valve's engineers get up to some pretty interesting projects on the side. Ben Krasnow, a mechanical and electrical engineer at the company, gets into some pretty wacky stuff — and two of his latest projects provide alternative methods for controlling games.

The first is a tongue controller. It's based on a retainer-type mouthpiece, and it's designed for controlling a cursor, much like a mouse. He created it by gutting an optical mouse and installing a sensor into a plastic mouthpiece. A button on the side can be pressed by biting down. When the user moves their tongue across the sensor, it's similar to moving an optical mouse.

The second is a bum controller. Constructed from a bathroom scale and an Xbox 360 controller, it uses your weight to move — leaning forwards moves your on-screen avatar forwards and so forth — and you can swivel from side to side for sideways movement.

Unfortunately, as Krasnow discovered, his rough tongue controller isn't really capable of fine control, but it's certainly an interesting experiment and could be a first step towards something like Georgia Tech's tongue-controlled wheelchair. The scale controller works a bit better, but it's still just an experiment.

Together, though, and with a bit more development, they could provide an interesting alternative for disabled gamers.

Check them out in the videos below.

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