It's hard to believe just how popular Angry Birds and its spin-offs have become since the first game's release in 2009, but there are plenty of people still enjoying Rovio's series even now. With numerous ports for almost every popular mobile device, game console, and web browser, not to mention over half a billion downloads just this year, it's clear that casual gamers are still enamored with the game about suicidal birds and explosive pigs. A couple of students have even gone so far as to create a slingshot-style controller just for the game out of a motorized slider from a sound mixer and an Arduino microcontroller.
Hideaki Matsui and Andrew Spitz developed the force feedback controller, named "Super Angry Birds," for a course on haptics at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. To mimic the tension of the slingshot as it's tugged back, they hacked a motorized fader from an audio mixer to make it give some resistance when pulled and then snap back to the front when released. An attached Arduino-based microcontroller tracks the position or the slider and angle being applied to the bar and runs it through a program created in Max/MSP. The program then matches the position to a force curve and signals the microcontroller to apply an appropriate opposing force, while also duplicating the actions in the game.
The result is a slider that feels like it's on a spring and can be used to fling the birds across the screen more naturally than touch controls or a mouse. After some customizing, the finished controller looks almost retail-worthy – they even added a small TNT box with a button to trigger the birds' special moves.
So far, the duo have only demonstrated the controller with the original Angry Birds on a PC, but it's conceivable that it could be adapted to the various ports and sequels out there – except Angry Birds Space, which would require a full 360 degrees of movement. Sadly, the two designers have not mentioned any plans to convert the device into a commercial product, so you'll have to brush up on your programming skills if you want your own.
Check out the video below to see how the Super Angry Birds controller works.
Source: Sound + Design
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