Grifta gamepad splits in two and changes size

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A new modular gamepad allows you to decouple the two sides of a game controller for more natural and ergonomic play

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If you've ever wished for a gamepad that conforms to your needs rather than forcing you to conform to its rigid shell then you'll appreciate the idea behind Grifta. It's a modular gamepad system that divorces the left and right units from each other and offers three interchangeable handle sizes. The three-piece Grifta's main selling point is backed by a keyboard mode for play with one grip plus a mouse as well as eight extra buttons on each of its two handgrips.

Most gamepads, including the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 and the Xbox One Wireless Controller, come in one-size-fits-all shells that demand fingers and thumbs be arranged at either end around the printed circuit board (PCB) that lies underneath the joysticks and buttons. Designers make some effort to deliver the best ergonomics possible, but they are restrained by manufacturing procedures that favor the simplicity of flat-plane PCBs sandwiched between two plastic molds. This, Grifta's creators argue, is akin to the tail wagging the dog.

They claim that their system is designed without concern for simple manufacturing and instead puts the ergonomics of the human hand first. The left unit has a directional pad and joystick, with capacitive switches in place of the typical shoulder triggers and eight additional buttons (four on front and four on the back) that can be mapped to keyboard commands – useful not only for couchbound PC gaming, but also for disabled players who can only play with one hand.

The right unit is the same, except mirrored and with four face buttons (ABXY) in place of the d-pad. And each has three different soft silicon handles that can be swapped in and out.

The Grifta also sports mechanical rather than rubber switches beneath the buttons, which in theory will make them more responsive to input. It's compatible out of the box with Windows, Android, and PlayStation 3 (and via an adapter with PlayStation 4), Xbox 360, and Xbox One. And an MFi version for use with iOS devices is on the cards for the future.

The Grifta gamepad project is cuurently the subject of a Kickstarter crowdfinding campaign, and has already met its £65,000 goal, with funding over on April 2. Pledges for the left-hand Grifta unit start at £30 (about US$45) and for both units at £60. The full "Grifta Classic" ensemble is also available unassembled for £50. There are also limited numbers of color versions at a £123 tier.

If met, a number of stretch goals will add extra components such as tablet and mobile mounts. The Antler add-on, which transforms the Grifta into an infrared gesture device aimed at virtual reality gaming, has already been confirmed. If all goes to plan, the first Grifta gamepads are expected to start shipping in July.

You can see the Grifta Kickstarter pitch video below.

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