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Work it, Bill, work it. According to CNN, Bill Gates took a break during this week’s Comdex convention to try out Action Stick: a new video game controller that uses 18 infrared sensors to respond to kicks and punches. The $100 gizmo is supposed to go on sale next month, and will be compatible with PC, Xbox, and PS2 systems. Video games are not just for your thumbs anymore.

This isn’t the first tchochke to offer a more a vibrant workout. Dance Dance Revolution, a boogie-by-numbers hit from Japan, is controlled by dancing on an accompanying floor-pad. Sony’s new Eye Toy for the Playstation 2 is a digital camera that puts a real-time, interactive image of the player right into the action; instead of maneuvering a character, you see yourself karate-chopping bad guys on screen.

It’s about time such products became mainstream. Despite the astounding advances in video game software development, innovation in peripherals has been relatively tame (and lame). Gamers are an active generation–weaned on skateboarding, mountain biking, snowboarding. It’s kind of silly to create “immersive” experiences that are so limited to twitching thumbs. Memo to game designers: The body is a terrible thing to waste.

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