The Bottomless Joystick could be the future of controllers for virtual reality gaming

Most VR controllers of today look and work just like a regular gamepad, but this kind of hardware doesn’t really lend itself to the immersive qualities of virtual reality gaming. To bridge the gap, the humble arcade-type joystick control might be making a comeback. The Bottomless Joystick is especially suitable for VR, since it is capable of working even when it’s not attached to any solid base.

The secret is a motorized gimbal, or moveable weight, attached to the base of the handle. This base gives the joystick the solid handling it needs despite lacking a surface on which to stand. For smooth gameplay, the gimbal calculates movements and keeps its position despite the moving handle. But for an immersive experience, it can do so much more.

For example, in a shooting game, the gimbal can imitate jerking movements. This sudden weight shift feels like a gun in recoil. The video explaining the product also suggests that the Bottomless Joystick can simulate what an out-of-control plane feels like through the random spinning of the gimbal. If the gimbal purposely slows down its reaction to user movement, it creates a sensation of resistance and heaviness.

The developer behind the Bottomless Joystick is Katsumoto Yuichiro, a Japanese gadget inventor based in Singapore. For Yuichiro, the joystick as we know it is too dependent on a desk, the very surface VR removes. His concept upgrades the classic gaming control to the modern era. And, as Yuichiro demonstrates, if all else fails, his gadget does a good job at keeping an umbrella upright.

The Bottomless Joystick was developed at the Interactive and Digital Institute at the National University of Singapore, with funding from the Interactive Digital Media Programme Office.

As VR blurs the line between the real and the virtual, PSFK has also seen interesting controls that make users question what’s really there. Concept NeuroGoggles use mind-reading, the Leap motion makes the player’s hands part of the game, while Omni uses an elaborate treadmill to create the illusion of travel within the VR world.

Bottomless Joystick

Most VR controllers of today look and work just like a regular gamepad, but this kind of hardware doesn’t really lend itself to the immersive qualities of virtual reality gaming. To bridge the gap, the humble arcade-type joystick control might be making a comeback. The Bottomless Joystick is especially suitable for VR, since it is capable of working even when it’s not attached to any solid base.

The secret is a motorized gimbal, or moveable weight, attached to the base of the handle. This base gives the joystick the solid handling it needs despite lacking a surface on which to stand. For smooth gameplay, the gimbal calculates movements and keeps its position despite the moving handle. But for an immersive experience, it can do so much more.