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Sci-Tech

US Navy launches submarine maneuvered by Xbox controller

Commentary: The USS Colorado has a new way of operating its photonics masts, and it's something younger sailors are already familiar with.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives    


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Lt. Anthony Matus uses an Xbox controller to maneuver the Colorado's photonic mast.

US Navy

When the US Navy commissions a submarine Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer calls "a true marvel of technology and innovation," you might not expect this would include a popular gaming device.

Yet the USS Colorado, which makes its debut Saturday, manages to merge next-generation attack capabilities with, well, an Xbox controller.

The controller operates two photonics masts. These are the successors to the periscopes you might be familiar with in old war movies. The masts house visible and infrared digital cameras on top of telescoping arms.

The Navy didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as to whose idea it was to try a gaming mechanism for its vessels.

Commander Reed Koepp, the Colorado's commanding officer, told the Associated Press two factors came into play: Xbox controllers are cheaper and younger sailors are more familiar with their operation. 

The Navy says on its website that this is the first submarine blessed with the controllers from its inception.

The submarine is 377 feet (115 meters) long, 34 feet (10 meters) wide and weighs approximately 7,800 tons when submerged. It also doesn't have to refuel, as it's blessed with a nuclear reactor plant that powers the submarine for the lifetime of its existence.

Of course, this isn't the first time video games have entered the serious arena of warfare. 

Some video games were even created through projects financed by the Pentagon. Games are also used extensively to train personnel

It's not, though, as if being a gamer is necessarily a fast track to a military career. In South Korea, video game addiction may be seen as a cause for exemption from military service -- you know, like bone spurs.

With the USS Colorado, however, the Navy has brought an everyday gaming device into its submarines. 

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