Wearable Controller Allows Amputees to Enjoy Video Games


A new gaming peripheral is providing amputees with a way to enjoy their gaming hobby once again.

George Levay lost both of his hands, parts of his feet, and a portion of his face in a battle with meningitis in his native Hungary. His determination led him to complete his bachelor’s degree anyway, and a Fulbright scholarship brought him to Johns Hopkins University. That’s where he met Nate Tran and Adam Li, and the GEAR (Game Enhancing Augmented Reality) project was born.

What began as an assignment to design an alternative method of computer control has become an award-winning experiment in accessibility for the countless people who have had their lives severely impacted by physical limitation. The unique design of the GEAR team’s prototype “sandals” allow for control that, with practice, can stand toe-to-toe with traditional input methods.

The three silicone sensors in each sandal could even be upgraded to fifteen, providing more than enough potential control for most games on the market. Best of all the GEAR devices only cost around $50 to produce, so a willing manufacturer would be able to provide them at a reasonable price.

Levay has already mastered games like CS:GO and World of Warcraft with the controls, and provided a video demonstration in which he bested three other players in a race through one of the fast-paced parkour challenges in Mirror’s Edge.

Rob Dodson of Advanced Arm Dynamics is sold on the idea and already working on one of his own. He’d like to use myoelectric prosthetics to control games, and in so doing help to train patients in their use. In the meantime, he believes that his patients could receive a substantial boost to their quality of life through the efforts of Levay and his friends.

It’s good news all around for those who have had to set aside their favorite pastimes in the wake of physical disability.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.