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The Xbox Adaptive Controller may change gaming forever
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-05-17 12:13:16

The operative word is "adaptive". XAC's potential truly begins with its back-side strip. There, you'll find a whopping 19 ports, all 3.5mm jacks. No, this isn't a giant middle finger to the headphone-jack haters at Apple and Google. Rather, these ports see Microsoft connecting with, and loudly celebrating, what has long been an open secret in the world of gaming peripherals: the community of add-on devices designed for limited-mobility gamers.

Oversized buttons, finger switches, blowing tubes, foot pedals, and other specialized inputs have long been built for gamers who can't hold onto or efficiently use average controllers (gamepads, keyboards, mice). Recent speeches from company heads like CEO Satya Nadella and Xbox chief Phil Spencer have paid lip service to "inclusivity" in computing and gaming, but this device, the XAC, aims to do the trick by connecting niche add-ons to standard Microsoft hardware.

This is a hugely important device for gamers with limited mobility. Nothing but praise for Microsoft for developing a device like this.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-11
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Real world usage?
By Bill Shooter of Bul on 2018-05-17 13:54:19
Hate to be that guy, but games are nice but allowing people to use computers for general work would be better. I know there are exciting technologies out there, and its been close to ten years since I worked with them. But at least back then, they could have used some improvement. Hopefully some of this tech is transferable to other realms.
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Keyboard / Mouse support
By FunkyELF on 2018-05-17 14:45:03
I just wish there was proper keyboard/mouse support on these consoles.

You can get keyboards/mice that attempt to emulate joystick motions but it's not the same.

Game servers should be able to segregate players with gamepads vs players with keyboard/mouse and allow people to choose to join games that only allow one particular type or all types, etc.

No reason a PC gamer shouldn't be able to play against a console player if they choose to. No reason a console owner shouldn't be able to hook up a keyboard and mouse.
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RE: Keyboard / Mouse support
By SitrucKram on 2018-05-17 16:39:29
Oh, there's a reason. They wouldn't be able to sell you a 50-60-70 dollar controller if they supported mouse/keyboard. I'd bet that this functionality is already in the OS.
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RE: Real world usage?
By ssokolow on 2018-05-17 20:03:46
> Hate to be that guy, but games are nice but allowing people to use computers for general work would be better. I know there are exciting technologies out there, and its been close to ten years since I worked with them. But at least back then, they could have used some improvement. Hopefully some of this tech is transferable to other realms.

I haven't kept up with Windows but, on Linux, it's not difficult to plumb the standard joystick APIs into tasks like controlling the mouse pointer, application-specific macros, etc.

Given the range of RAD tools and programming languages available for Windows, if such tooling doesn't already exist, I doubt it'll be long before someone with programming skills will create such tooling to serve a friend or relative's need.
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PS4 = FreeBSD
By Darkmage on 2018-05-17 21:55:07
OrbisOS the PS4 Operating System, is just a modified FreeBSD Unix. They even use Grub on the developer kits. Keyboard/Mouse support would be dead easy to have included. https://www.extremetech.com/gamin...

Edited 2018-05-17 21:56 UTC
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RE[2]: Real world usage?
By ahferroin7 on 2018-05-18 12:21:12
The problem with doing that on Windows is that to work reliably with everything it essentially has to be part of the kernel, which means driver development is involved, whereas on Linux it's trivial to handle from userspace with essentially zero interoperability concerns.

FWIW, the most recent Windows 10 version (1803) actually did a huge amount with their accessibility features (they're better than almost everyone else at handling of colorblindness now), but almost all of it was dealing with more conventionally known disabilities involving visual or auditory impairment.
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RE[2]: Keyboard / Mouse support
By ahferroin7 on 2018-05-18 12:23:22
It is, XB1 is just running a modified version of Windows on top of Hyper-V, with the games running inside dedicated VM's on top of a really stripped down kernel.

I think the bigger reason that they don't support it though is that allowing for keyboard and mouse support means you have to support rebinding keys with per-game profiles, and they want no part of that insanity in the system software.
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RE[3]: Keyboard / Mouse support
By zima on 2018-05-22 01:02:36
Hm, running console OS under virtualisation seems slightly wasteful... (after all, one of advantages of game consoles was always that software could be closer to metal) Does the PS4 use similar setup?
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RE[4]: Keyboard / Mouse support
By ahferroin7 on 2018-05-22 12:15:09
I believe it technically does, and I'm pretty sure the XB360, PS3 and Switch do as well (the Wii and Wii U don't though, they have hardware level isolation where the 'OS' runs on a separate ARM core that's integrated with the main PPC SoC they run on), though this isn't exactly virtulization in the sense you're probably thinking, it's more like hardware assisted containerization, with just a small bit of stub code running in the kernel execution context inside the VM's running the game (IOW, the 'OS' in that context provides just enough for OpenGL/Vulkan/DirectX, plus some basic drivers form most of the other hardware (abstraction for controllers, filesystem access, ect), while the game does everything else).

The biggest advantage to this approach is that it simplifies implementing things like console-wide pause menus such as what you get when you hit the middle button on a PS4 controller. Because you're running the game in a VM, it's trivial to context switch quickly despite the game needing to interact with the 'hardware' directly or nearly directly. This type of isolation also makes it far easier to ensure that the user is not running a modified copy of the game (and thus makes it much more difficult to cheat at online games), and also allows for sane handling of potentially differing hardware versions (the game can embed some metadata to say what hardware revision it expects to be run against, and the hypervisor can adjust the virtulized hardware interfaces to look like that).

From a realistic perspective, this generally has very little impact on actual performance for the games, as all the 'hardware' interfaces are usually paravirtualized, not emulated.
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RE[5]: Keyboard / Mouse support
By zima on 2018-05-23 23:47:08
Thank you for the response. :)

> This type of isolation also makes it far easier to ensure that the user is not running a modified copy of the game (and thus makes it much more difficult to cheat at online games)
And I imagine it also helps with anti-piracy measures?...
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