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Intelligent Machines

Feel the Pressure

In the real world, shooting a gun bears little resemblance to shooting pool. But in computer games, just about everything-fighting wars, flying planes, playing sports-is reduced to twitches of the hand and arm, communicated through the omnipresent joystick. Miacomet, a Springfield,Mass.-based startup, intends to change that. The company’s first product, a pool-game interface, consists of a U-shaped structure that accommodates an ordinary pool cue. A mechanism similar to the one in a computer mouse senses the cue’s motion; the faster you move the stick, the harder it “hits” the ball on the PC screen. A force-feedback fishing rod due out early next year uses motion sensors and reduction gears to give the feel of casting a line, getting a nibble, and hauling a big one onto the dock. Miacomet CEO Randy Hujar says that in the next year or so Miacomet will bring out specialized controllers for golf, tennis and baseball, as well as a stand-on platform for snowboarding or skateboarding.

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