The First Person Gamerunner fuses a treadmill with a USB game controller and allows players to literally walk through first person shooter games. The system uses optical encoders and embedded software to translate the movements of the treadmill to the corresponding movements inside the game environment, according to Charles Van Noland, Gamerunner's inventor. The toughest part of the design, he says, was translating digital signals from the encoder into the analog signals required to control the games. The system has a swiveling set of handlebars that allows players to make direction changes within the game. The handlebars also house user-configurable buttons, such as the one used for the trigger. Gamerunner Inc., the device's manufacturer, calibrates the system for fast walking speeds, rather than flat out running ó mostly to allow gamers to play for long periods of time. And for the sake of safety, the treadmill moves forward only; a "reverse" button translates forward treadmill movement into backwards in-game movement. Gamerunner builds its treadmill structural elements from machined aluminum billets. "We wanted them to be rugged," says Van Noland, a mechanical engineer with a background in CNC machining. For more information and look at some videos of the controller in action, visit http://rbi.ims.ca/4915-528.
This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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