Navy’s New Periscope System Uses Xbox Controller
I often bragged that I could operate anything that was controlled by an Xbox controller. Sure, I said that because there wasn't an F-18 Hornet or a M1A1 Abrahams Tank wired up with my controller of choice to prove it on - but I stand by my statement. I'm not alone either, designers of military vehicles have long known that just about every single eligible us citizen below a certain age has plenty of familiarity with a video game console controller. If your parents have ever told you that playing video games, share this story with them.
For the longest time, submarines have relied on a reflected light design in their periscope. This long, extendable pipe with angled mirrors at each end has been the standard since the birth of the submersible craft. It allowed you to peek above the waves while staying safely below them. Later upgrades included optics and longer tubes so that you could see further and stay a bit deeper, but this technology has it's limitations.
Due to be commissioned in November, the USS Colorado will feature a brand new periscope system. The all digital system will eschew optics in favor of high-resolution cameras and digital displays. The new system will be better, more user friendly, allow for a smoother overall design of the vessel, and will be less expensive than the currently used system. The most notable change of all is the user interface. The new system will ditch the $38,000 control handle for a $50 Xbox controller!
If you've ever used one, you know that the very common video controller is packed with buttons in an arrangement that makes using any of them almost second nature after a short "training" period. In the video game world, it's enough functionality that you can race a million dollar sports car, fly a spaceship, or solve complicated puzzles with out changing the hardware. To make it better, every single recruit will have years of practice with this type of controller (I'm including my PlayStation-loving brethren) before they are of eligible service age.
Look to see this tech applied on helicopters, drones, tanks, and way more in the future. So, the next time someone is complaining about your video game time - tell them you are training to serve our country.