We’re already pretty deep into this millennium, and as far as I’m concerned this is supposed to be the future. And that’s supposed to mean Minority Report-style controls for everything. Imagine my surprise then to find out that the US Navy has decided to embrace antiquity instead, rolling out plans to use 12-year old Xbox 360 controllers in the most advanced submarines.
As reported by The Virginian-Pilot, the hi-tech photonics masts that replace traditional single-view periscopes will now be controlled via trusty old $39.95 (R520-odd) Xbox 360 gampads, instead of purpose-built helicopter-type joysticks which set the US Navy back a cool $38,000 (R500,000, plus change).
It’s not just a cost cutting exercise either – according to Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard, assistant weapons officer on the USS John Warner, it was largely about making it more relateable for a new generation of officers. “The Navy got together and they asked a bunch of J.O.s and junior guys, ‘What can we do to make your life better?’” said Lt. j.g. Leonard. “And one of the things that came out is the controls for the scope. It’s kind of clunky in your hand; it’s real heavy.”
But you can be sure that the Xbox 360 controller’s budget bin pricing definitely put a smile on the faces of the suits who sign the cheques.