Knowles Electronics Mems Joystick for Samsung Galaxy Tab, Nintendo 3DS hands-on (video)

With gaming on tablets, the visual experience is often top-notch, but the controls are unfamiliar at best -- even inadequate at times. But adding a traditional joystick is impractical, especially when aesthetics is a key selling point for manufacturers. Chicago-based Knowles Electronics has a fairly practical solution, however, and hopes that some manufacturers will adopt its Mems Joystick. At just 1.6mm tall, the joystick is slim enough for a device to maintain a svelte profile, and the 40 microamps it consumes during normal operation is relatively negligible, according to company reps. Tablets are just the start -- Knowles built a series of prototypes to demonstrate a variety of potential applications.

We took the joystick for a spin on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Atrix, Nintendo 3DS and a pair of laptops. All of the joystick prototypes connected using Bluetooth or USB, and were designed specifically for this CEATEC demonstration -- sadly they won't be available for purchase, though manufacturers could implement the controller into similar products. It took only a few seconds to get accustomed to the pair of joysticks mounted to the back of the Tab. Controlling gameplay felt natural, and we definitely preferred playing with a clear view of the display. We also navigated through Google Maps, and scrolled a web page -- both experiences felt superior to moving around the touchscreen. The 3DS joystick functioned similarly to the native controller included with that device, though Knowles reps noted that it's significantly smaller, and uses less power -- and without compromise, it seems.

Jump past the break for a walkthrough of the devices we saw today, but try not to fall in love -- you won't be able to use the Joystick anytime soon, if manufacturers decide to implement them at all.%Gallery-135902%