When you play with thermoelectrics, you're bound to get burned, or possibly chilled.
Researchers from the at the Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered that certain something that's been missing from every video game that's ever featured lava and ice levels: ThermoGame, a video game interaction system that delivers sensations of hot and cold to the player.
How does it work? Small solid-state devices use electricity to generate and remove heat. It's all based off of the Peltier effect, named after the French physicist Jean-Charles Peltier, who discovered the temperature-changing effects of electrical currents in 1834.
A pair of these devices is housed in the upper and lower halves of a video game controller's casing. At appropriate times during gameplay, the devices activate, rapidly cooling or heating the controller surface, bringing the sensation to temperature change to the player's hands.
While the change in temperature is small, with only a ten degree difference in the controller's temperature in five seconds, researchers found that this small change provides enough of a sensory nudge to draw players deeper into the virtual environment.
The technology, presented at SIGGRAPH 2010 this week, was developed in cooperation with the National Institute of Special Needs Education, with potential uses including temperature-based control mechanisms for use by the blind.
It might not be smell-o-vision, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Adding Temperature to Human-Computer Interaction [MIT Technology Review]