Gaming has many practical applications outside of the gaming world; if people are willing to be open to the possibility. In an effort to reduce the training time to adapt to handgrip controls the US Navy will merge Xbox 360 controllers with its submarine technology.
Ease of Use
Although the traditional idea of a periscope twisting above the water is what we most think of with submarines; the Navy’s Virginia-class subs have something a little more advanced. These subs have two photonic masts that provide a 360 degree view for the crew to view above the water. These masts traditionally use a helicopter-style stick for control. These sticks do not have a natural feel to most new recruits.
“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?’ and one of the things to come out is the controls for the scope. It’s kind of clunky in your hand; it’s heavy” said Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard, the USS John Warner’s assistant weapons officer
After two years of tests done at a Lockheed Martin facility in Virginia, officials said sailors were able to figure out how to use the controller within a matter of minutes compared to hours with the handgrip.
In addition to the time saved with training, the cost savings with the Xbox 360 controller is significant. The handgrip typically costs $38,000 per unit compared to the minuscule $30 Xbox 360 controllers which when added up will save the government thousands of dollars.
The Navy will installed the controllers initially on the USS Colorado, followed by future Virginia-class subs. This is just one of many attempts the Navy is making to incorporate traditional commercial devices into their infrastructure. The hope is to bring in sailors who can easily transition to new equipment. New recruits can easily adapt with familiarity of common commercial equipment used in homes and classrooms.