Construction Takes its Cue from Video Game Controls

Friday, May 30th, 2014
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Construction workers could soon be using a device similar to a modern video game controller to operate equipment and machinery from the safety of a remote vantage point.

The new SafetySense Controller being developed by Humanistic Robotics bears an uncanny resemblance to the sleek and ergonomic controllers used to operate modern console gaming devices such as the Nintendo Wii and the Playstation. With its stubby thumb-operated joysticks and plethora of conveniently-placed buttons, the device would look perfectly at home on the floor of an adolescent’s rumpus room.

Instead of using the device to manipulate digital sprites on a television or computer screen, however, Humanistic Robots hopes it will enable construction workers to control construction equipment with heightened precision and ease from the safety of a remote vantage point.

While the strong resemblance that the device shares with modern gaming controllers may confer it with a novel or even comical appearance in the eyes of many, its developers are hoping that this feature will strongly enhance its usability for a younger generation of budding construction professionals, who have been weaned on video games from an early age.

Their reasoning runs that the ability kids acquire to operate simulated vehicles while playing games such Grand Theft Auto and Halo throughout the course of their formative years can be readily transferred to a construction site simply by adapting the control devices for building equipment to what they’ve long been accustomed to playing.

This makes the device far easier to use than most other control options currently available on the market, which often possess bewildering control configurations that can take novices a while to grapple with.

The SafetySense is also lighter and more compact than most other operating devices, which are invariably large and unwieldy, while its remote communication capabilities, available in a broad range of frequencies including 900Mhz, 2.4Ghz and 1.3hz, dispense with the need for long and cumbersome control cords.

The device can be reconfigured for use with a broad variety of modern construction machinery, and provides flexible interface options, including RS-232 Serial, CAN, USB and Analog/Digital I/O.

While the controller has yet to make its official debut on the market, SafetySense has already commenced testing of the device with a number of pilot projects involving large-scale construction equipment.

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