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Google Super Sync Sports Turns Your Phone Into A Gamepad

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the network-everything dept.

Google 36

Deathspawner writes "Using a mobile device to control an application on a PC, media player or video game console, isn't too uncommon, but it is when the content being controlled is a game. Just how possible would it be to play a fairly fast-paced game on your PC via your mobile device? Google wanted to find out, so it crafted a game called Super Sync Sports, where you control an athlete on your desktop or notebook via controls on your phone or tablet. To make a game like this possible, Google turned to WebSockets for real-time collaboration between two devices, HTML5 for the audio, Canvas for the graphics, and CSS3 for the styling and transitions." It appears that it routes your controls through the Internet rather than locally. Something like this over bluetooth or wifi with a shared touch screen might be cool for electronic board games.

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WebRTC (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43039931)

This is about browser-browser communication, using your android as a bluetooth gamepad/mouse/remote is old news, there are a million apps to do just that.

WebRTC could let the two browsers talk through the local wifi, instead of having to bounce off the 'net.

Re:WebRTC (2)

Barryke (772876) | about a year ago | (#43040219)

Mod parent up.
WebRTC specification: http://dev.w3.org/2011/webrtc/editor/webrtc.html#rtcdatachannel [w3.org]

A nice experiment using WebRTC for P2P traffic in browsers: (well Chrome only for now, actually)
https://github.com/piranna/ShareIt#readme [github.com]

ShareIt is a javascript P2P filesharing system. And yes, if you are thinking about a torrent-isch setup, that is in the works also, one is called Ampere.

Re:WebRTC (1)

roca (43122) | about a year ago | (#43042183)

It's odd that that app is Chrome-only, since currently Firefox supports DataChannels and Chrome does not.

Looks like it's because they're using a DataChannel polyfill and didn't even bother testing if it works in the real DataChannels in Firefox!

Having a temper tantrum and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43039971)

Having a temper tantrum and throwing a controller against the wall suddenly becomes incredibly expensive.

In seriousness, I can't see such a thing taking off because young children are generally not known for being gentle with their posessions.

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (4, Insightful)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#43039989)

there's also the latency issue, something no one thinks about when it comes to hype like this, limiting the application of such a device to less real-time genres of games.

No tactile feedback (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43040105)

That and the fact that unlike the Wii U GamePad, phones have no physical buttons for the application's use. Power, volume, and quit are all reserved for the system. This means all controls must be on the screen, and the player won't know where to press during any phases that involve looking up at the big screen. Unlike physical buttons, a flat sheet of glass gives no tactile feedback.

Re:No tactile feedback (2)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#43040259)

Volume isn't reserved for the system. My e book app uses it to turn pages.

Come to think of it, I've pressed volume up on my phone about fifteen thousand times in the last year. I wonder what the mean presses to failure is.

Remapping the volume buttons (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43041311)

Volume isn't reserved for the system. My e book app uses it to turn pages.

An application intended for quiet enjoyment, such as a paged document reader, can get away with that. An application with sound, such as a video game, not so much. When sound is playing, the user expects to have a volume control, not to have the volume up and down buttons remapped to jump and fire.

Re:No tactile feedback (2)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43040335)

Unlike physical buttons, a flat sheet of glass gives no tactile feedback.

Not quite true - phone vibration when you touch a control on the screen is the very definition of tactile feedback, as haptic technology *is* a kind of tactile feedback.

It's also possible to address the lack of physical buttons by ensuring that the virtual controls are organized and segregated logically/intuitively, reducing or removing the need for visually identifying the controls. Many tablet/phone games already do this, mimicking "standard" console controls (for example, directional control on left, other buttons on right).

Precisely centering the thumbs (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43041281)

Moving the goalposts slightly to reflect the spirit of what I meant rather than the letter of what I wrote:

Not quite true - phone vibration when you touch a control on the screen is the very definition of tactile feedback

But is it useful tactile feedback? Physical buttons have edges that the thumb's touch sensors feel in order to know where the thumb is positioned relative to the button so that the user can recenter the thumb over the button before actually pressing it. It's the same reason that your PC's keyboard has bumps on the F and J, so that a typist can identify the home row while looking at the display, and gaps between keys or beveled edges on the keys, so that the fingers can feel where one key ends and the next begins. A flat sheet of glass lacks this, and devices with key bumps powered by a Tactus touch screen (as seen in this article [cnet.com], this video [cnet.com], and this video [youtube.com]) are still a year or two from mass production.

Many tablet/phone games already do this, mimicking "standard" console controls (for example, directional control on left, other buttons on right).

I have Nesoid, an NES emulator using such an on-screen gamepad, on my Nexus 7 tablet. Too often, in the heat of action, I end up pressing the wrong button or "whiffing" and pressing no button at all because my thumbs have drifted from where I expected them to be relative to the pictures of buttons.

Re:Precisely centering the thumbs (1)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43049679)

Yeah, I definitely agree with your intent. It's "nice" that there are (possibly mediocre) workarounds for phones/tablets, but only because it provides just some additional options for gaming. But ultimately, yes, I too long for an actual controller.

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (2)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43040153)

there's also the latency issue, something no one thinks about when it comes to hype like this

That's actually exactly what Google was thinking about when they decided to check out WebSockets [html5rocks.com], which kills the standard HTTP overhead and keeps an existing connection open between client(s)/server.

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43040435)

They didn't think very hard then, as your controls are still are going to be as lagged as your connection to the remote webserver is, similar to OnLive, but with none of the advantages. This could be in the range of 100s of milliseconds, which is far beyond the acceptable point of control latency.

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43040457)

Hey, replying to myself! Also, WebSockets is TCP, which is still going to have a lot of overheard compared to UDP which is more suitable for real-time applications like this. To which there is no current support in WebSockets, although you could probably hack up WebRTC to be used.

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year ago | (#43043645)

If they do it over then LAN (which they don't, but there's no reason why they shouldn't. maybe security limitations in the browser) they should get around 5 ms latency (ping). They don't need a round-trip, so it's half the ping time. If you can set TCP NODELAY with WebSockets, that should be achieveable with TCP. The problem is if there's a transmission error, you get retransmissions and delays. As each frame on the screen lasts for 16 ms at 60 Hz, the latency should be acceptable for most games

Re:Having a temper tantrum and... (3, Insightful)

TehCable (1351775) | about a year ago | (#43040101)

...I can't see such a thing taking off...

A lot of things Google does never take off. The point is that they make cool stuff even if there's little or no business case for it. I like that they are always showing the untapped potential of the ubiquitous tools we already have. I like that they make ways to make things work together, then share the tools for us all to use.

Does it compare music libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43040071)

At first I thought google might be purchasing the SuperSync [supersync.com] products... a music library comparison and merging app.... Maybe there is a tie in or a lawsuit in there somewhere.

*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43040189)

Nothing new, there have been applications to do these things for ages.
There's a reason they don't get all that far, it's because the idea is silly and doesn't work all that well.

You mean like RealRacing 2 (-1, Flamebait)

mad flyer (589291) | about a year ago | (#43040303)

On MacOS X since last year you can drive the cars throught iphone/ipad since last year...

Dear submitard, it's not because you never heard of it that it don't exist....

Re:You mean like RealRacing 2 (1)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43040383)

What you describe is AirPlay Mirroring, which requires close physical proximity.

This submission is touching on Google using WebSockets for game communication over the internet, which is far different from your example, and has 2 distinct advantages over AirPlay:
- There is no proprietary protocol requirement using specific hardware.
- Gaming can be played between people who aren't physically located together.

Re:You mean like RealRacing 2 (0)

mad flyer (589291) | about a year ago | (#43040937)

Nope, not at all. read again. It's the Mac OSx version of RealRacing 2 that you control either with a keyboard/gamepad OR from safari on your IOS device with the tilt sensor.

you don't need the IOS version of Real Racing 2. It is NOT airplay mirroring.

Re:You mean like RealRacing 2 (1)

admdrew (782761) | about a year ago | (#43049763)

Oh, ok, my bad! Thanks for that clarification.

RR2 on OS X controlled via an iOS device, however, still requires both your mac and your phone/tablet to be on the same wifi network (source [getsatisfaction.com]), very likely to handle the otherwise (relatively) high latency of an internet connection. This makes Google's work still relevant, given they're looking at users that may not be physically located together.

Wheee... (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#43040669)

Great. So I can use my phone as a third-rate shitty gamepad that's going to misfire, register phantom touches, ignore deliberate ones, kill me 7 times before I make it to level 2, and lag by at least 50-100ms under the most ideal circumstances possible.

Now, if someone makes a case for the Galaxy S3 that works with an extended battery & gives it a nice slide-out gamepad that's at least as good as the one on a GBA, or a clamp that lets me attach my S3 to a PS3 or 360 controller (with extended battery and case attached) so I can use it as a second display, I might be interested...

A stock touchscreen phone (Android or otherwise) might be good enough for playing something lame like Farmville, or playing card games with people 2,000 miles away, but phones just don't have the controls they need to be real game controllers. Internet latency is just the fatality move that finishes it off once and for all.

Re:Wheee... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43041159)

I have an Xperia play, and while the analog controls are total shit, I do think it would make a nifty game controller in a miniature Wii U kind of way. Which brings me to a question, why has nobody popped an accelerometer into a game controller in addition to all the normal stuff? Or has someone, and I just didn't notice? I owned one of those Microsoft Sidewinder 3D Sharkjumper controllers that gave you analog via an accelerometer, which was a horrible thing to try to play a game with. You could play a racing game with a whole lot of center progression and a nice bit of dead zone, but that was about all it was good for. But I think it would be neat to have a peek and dodge mechanism that was triggered by the accelerometer on a controller which also featured a nice analog stick.

Re:Wheee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43041751)

Wiimotes have accelerometers, so did the PS3's Sixaxis.

Re:Wheee... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43041809)

Wiimotes have accelerometers, so did the PS3's Sixaxis.

The wiimote doesn't count, because that's its whole mechanism, and it's not a normal gamepad with that added on. But I didn't know that about the sixaxis. I've never actually played a PS3, I only know one person who owns one. Oh wait, two. I know a dozen or so people who own a 360. This means little if anything but I find it interesting.

Re:Wheee... (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year ago | (#43042995)

Not quite... the Wiimote DOES have a proper 8-way digital gamepad with buttons a-la-NES. They kind of suck, in a middle school finger pain kind of way, but they DO exist.

That said, it's hard to think of ways to make good use of an accelerometer and gyro in a proper digital+analog 360-like gamepad, even though the Sixaxis tries. You can't really hold one confidently with one hand, and if you're holding it with two and using the digital or analog sticks/pads, chances are you DON'T want it reading intentions into the controller's orientation or motion. IMHO, the Gamecube and 360 reached the pinnacle of ergonomic gamepad controller design, and adding motion to them isn't necessarily an improvement. I'd rather just have a gamepad for games where a gamepad is appropriate, and Wii-type wiimote + nunchuck for games where THOSE controls are appropriate. And a nice high-resolution rotary encoder with a bit of mass & inertia, and no Atari 2600-like jitter, so somebody can port a quality versions of Warlords & Arkanoid to the next generation of consoles ;-)

I don't always (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43041079)

I don't always use a controller, but when I do, I use a piece of flat glass.

BT Controller does what the poster wanted (1)

sabernet (751826) | about a year ago | (#43041081)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=droidbean.btcontroller [google.com]

BT Controller for Android, basically lets you set up a gamepad on your phone(you create or download the layout) by syncing two android based and bluetooth capable devices.

Not affiliated with it, though I have used it.

Re:BT Controller does what the poster wanted (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#43041429)

A bunch of iOS games also do this, and there's a general purpose gamepad app as well I believe.

This isn't new. The other iOS and Android implementations don't require going through the web back to Google either.

what? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43041131)

so to use a phone in my hands less than 2 foot away from my pc I now have to send that signal around the globe using the intertubes?

Rube Goldberg would cry if he saw todays world

Didn't we do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43041919)

Isn't Brass Monkey already doing this? Theirs is local over wifi with flash and some other platform. I know they are working on a HTML5 version. It was just kind of deja vu...

QWOP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43042627)

>where you control an athlete on your desktop or notebook via controls on your phone or tablet.
This better be like QWOP or bust.


MIDI over Wi-Fi/BT has low enough latency already (1)

gig (78408) | about a year ago | (#43043215)

Playing instruments on iPad or iPhone that are being recorded as MIDI data on a Mac works great. Music has the same need for low latency as gaming controls. The only downside is you generally have to create an ad-hoc network between the devices so that you're not also running Internet over there or whatever other traffic may be on your proper Wi-Fi network.

Also iPads and iPhones running GarageBand can connect via Bluetooth so that you can play instruments on one and record on the other.

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