Gaming wearables are nothing new, we’ve seen them for years now thanks to Nintendo, Sony, and various other start-ups throughout the industry, but there’s one that is standing out, and it has our attention. Meet the Bcon Series 1.
When you’re digging through your email day in and out as I do, it’s always about selecting what to cover and what not to cover. Sometimes, you find something interesting, sometimes it’s just a “hello” to see how things are doing and see if you ran some news that was recently shared.
Sometimes, you get a tip about some really cool tech. For me, I’m always in, I was a fan of Nintendo’s Power Glove growing up. It made me feel like I was jumping straight into movies I’d loved as a child, each one giving me brand new ideas of where technology could and should go if it wasn’t so fundamentally flawed.
But over the years, after watching James Cameron’s movies Alita: Battle Angel and Ready Player One, I began to wonder: What if we had some of these technologies? What if we had fully adaptable gaming peripherals or wearables that could change the way we play VR games, non-VR titles, and even help those with disabilities play the way we do? Well, that’s where my latest news tip comes into play.
Step aside Power Glove, it looks like there’s a new beast on the horizon
You see, the Bcon Gaming Wearable is looking to do what I was hoping they would have done with VR headsets and devices such as Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive. After looking into it quite a bit more, it comes out that the Bcon was designed and engineered in Germany with the support of both crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo, giving the team what funding they need for the foot-based device.
Now, you may be wondering, why a foot-based wearable? Well PC gamers, that’s where things get rather interesting with the device. You see, its core lies within a high-precision motion sensor that you can trigger based on the movements of your foot, allowing you to move your foot the way you need in order to execute the moves you need. 24 keystrokes worth the motions to be quite honest.
For those playing games like World of Warcraft Classic, Mortal Kombat 11, Street Fighter V, or even Final Fantasy XIV, there’s a lot that can come out of a device like this, allowing you to use your feet to game, to take advantage of a rather elegantly designed control scheme to enhance how you play. Just think about this: Mapping WASD to it and actually moving without the need of a keyboard. Insane, right? I think so too, but this could be the start of something new.
To track these simple commands, the control scheme uses a 3-axis tracking mechanism powered by a dual-sensor-based system. This gives it a wide-array of detection, allowing you to lean your foot front, back, left, right, or even at an angle in order to map the inputs you need. Whatever they do, that’s completely up to you thanks to Bcon’s fully-customizable settings through its application it connects to via a low-profile Bluetooth HID frequency.
Just think about this: You can make over 1,000 movements per second and the device will track it. The device does feature haptic feedback such as a small vibration that is triggered when a keystroke is made. It’s probably for the best, you don’t want to go casting a spell, triggering an ability, or jumping at the wrong time off the side of a mountain in Skyrim.
Don’t worry, you won’t be jumping off mountains, well, not easily thanks to a Protection Zone
One thing that has snagged my interest is that the Bcon isn’t going to just fritz out and send you flying off the side of a mountain in Skyrim. To prevent this from happening, Bcon – the company by the same name as their wearable – has included a “Protection Zone” feature that prevents subconscious movements from triggering an input.
The degree for this kind of prevention isn’t actually much, but it’s just enough, coming to an overall window of approximately five degrees of your foot shifting. If you go outside the limiter or Protection Zone, you’ll get a vibration-based notification when you hit it to let you know you triggered the hot-key demand.
Due to the Bcon Wearable being strapped to your foot, you will be able to keep it firmly planted and in position without over-exaggerating your foot movements, kicking things, or feeling as if you haven’t done enough to activate the sensors. Thank the lords and ladies of gaming that it’s a wire-free experience. You won’t have to worry about yanking your tower or laptop over just to make a simple movement.
But how does this device have the potential to change the way we game?
Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about, isn’t it? Wearable gaming peripherals are nothing new. We’ve seen them come, we’ve seen them go, and we’ve even seen them fail to launch. However, the Bcon seems to be going the proper route. Bcon’s team has been working hard at perfecting haptic feedback, fine-tuning every sensor they can and working around the clock to ensure that the range of motion users make will trigger a proper keystroke.
The configuration software it comes with is sure to do that thanks to its onboard memory and companion app that lets you choose what motions trigger what hotkey when you play. Want to roll your foot from left to right or counterclockwise? You can do that and it’ll respond to one of your various motions to trigger a single key out of the 24 mappable actions.
But you won’t just tweak what buttons – rather a motion – does what: You’ll even tweak how much range of motion you need in order to activate said key. Want to move your foot six degrees to trigger your “Alt+1” hotkey on Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers? That’s a thing you can do. You can create your own inputs based on your very won range of motion.
For gamers with disabilities that impede upon their ability to move as the average person would, the world of gaming is opening up, and this very device could be the tool that does it. Hands, feet, any of it could work – in theory. The team has already begun implementing a host of player-made configurations running from titles such as Fortnite to Grand Theft Auto V. Don’t be surprised if you find even more popular titles such as World of Warcraft or Tekken 7 making the rounds before long.
Hell, even League of Legends seems to be on the list of games. Want to take the device off? You can do that, there’s also buttons to pause the device, allowing you to suspend your inputs for a time until your foot moves to hit that button again to re-activate the device.
Besides control configuration creation, Bcon’s software also lets you monitor the battery life of the Bcon and choose a key for “pausing” the wearable. Pausing will suspend any inputs until pressing the pause key again, at which point the Bcon will calibrate itself to your foot’s current position. The best part of the pause feature is that it can be activated in the middle of games, so you can recalibrate your position on the fly if you want to shift around a bit or kick your feet up.
How can one device benefit disabled gamers?
When it comes to disabled gamers, I’m an advocate for ensuring that they can experience the games we do in the way we do without the troubles they already have. Microsoft in recent years has been adamant about solving this issue thanks to their Adaptive Controller.
Except, the Xbox Adaptive Controller isn’t cheap. It’s actually quite expensive when you begin to tally up the numbers, the peripherals for it, and what you’ll need to do to custom make the buttons or joysticks yourself. There’s a wide-array of disabled gamers out there, each of them having varying needs and limitations, but there’s a reason this device can work.
When you talk about a motion-based device such as Bcon, the realm of possibilities opens up. Fine-tuning it for say a hand or wrist, that’s possible. Fine-tune it for the head for those with disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and you’ve opened up an entirely new market, but you’ve also enabled those that have struggled to play games, to do so on the same level as other gamers that don’t have such restrictions.
Want to move forward? Let them tilt their head or hand forward. Want them to move back? Tilt or move your hand back. Want to move at a reverse angle say left or right while trekking backward? Tilt your hand in said direction or even your head.
But this also means more than a single Bcon. This means that a lot of different avenues will have to open up and two devices may have to be designed to work together in order to ensure the best experience possible. Heck, even if it means just a single hand on a single side, there’s still a lot that can be done, except there’s another issue – using it as a mouse-type feature instead.
There’s a lot going on and Newegg gives us hope on just how good it can be
It’ll get there though. According to Newegg, the Bcon Gaming Wearable may just be the next best thing: at its core lies a high-precision motion sensor that lets you trigger keystrokes with a flick of your foot. Designed and engineered in Germany with crowdfunding support on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, the Bcon is an innovative wearable PC gaming controller that lets you game with your feet. Bcon gives players the optimal freedom to move around. Ditching the cords means that the Bcon connects over Bluetooth, meaning you’ll either need a computer with Bluetooth built-in, or invest in a Bluetooth adapter.
Even as the technology advances, there’s a lot of hope for one such device, and it’ll be one to keep an eye on moving forward. If you want to know more, you can also check out the official Bcon site for pricing, information, and product updates.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.