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PAX 2009 Impressions: The Peregrine gaming glove

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When the Peregrine gaming glove debuted at E3 2009, the inevitable comparisons to the old Power Glove surfaced. The folks at Iron Will Technologies, who have built the glove based off technology going into similar equipment for the U.S. armed forces, have been trying hard ever since to put some distance between their product and a product that’s known for its cameo in The Wizard. But even while the technology is different, would the end result be the same, or would the Peregrine be able to break that stereotype?

Getting a chance to check it out at PAX, I think it’s safe to say that the stereotype some gamers may have about the Peregrine could not be any less true. That’s the case in several regards, including design and comfort. The glove itself is composed of a flexible, breathable material that is also, get this, washable. As in you can spill your soda pop on it, put it in the washing machine, let it dry out and it’ll still work just fine. The actual materials used to make the glove are very light-weight and the touch sensors are made out of what feels like a flexible plastic, but is actually a touch-reactive material. The whole package fits well to the form of your hand, feeling at times like it’s not even there, and the gloves come in several sizes. All of the sensors are hooked up to a dock on the back, to which a magnetically-attached pod is connected that provides the brains of the whole device. Because the pod is magnetically attached, it can break away in the event you make a sudden movement, like jerking your hand up in victory, without ripping the cord out of your PC or destroying the glove. This also makes it easily portable and easy to take a quick break by detaching and reattaching the pod.

The glove’s settings are adjustable and the program used to do so is relatively simple enough that anyone can use it. One tab simply lets you determine which buttons are mapped to each touch point and hand position, while another allows you adjust the sensitivity with relative ease. Adjustments only take a matter of seconds, so if you lose your calibration during the game, you simply have to back out, readjust the glove quickly, and jump back in. You can do the same with the button and macro mapping, meaning that changing your glove’s set-up between games isn’t a problem at all.

But the biggest question in my mind had to be how it would do in a real-world situation. For that, we jumped into a session of Defense of the Ancients, a popular Warcraft III mod. This is the kind of game the Peregrine was designed for, and it performed relatively well. I had little problem casting spells and attacking enemies, but it wasn’t perfect, as it sometimes took multiple presses to have some actions be registered. I’m not sure if this was a design problem or just inexperience on my part, but it was at least a little bit frustrating. Lag was not an issue, surprisingly enough, and there were no issues with the wrong signals being sent by the glove to the game whatsoever. Considering I had never played Defense of the Ancients before, I had learned the basics within only a few minutes thanks to the Peregrine and a little bit of help. I would definitely say that this glove made my gaming experience a bit easier.

The Peregrine ships sometime in Q4 2009 for $129. If you’re a World of Warcraft or RTS and MMO player, this could be something definitely worth looking into as a way to get rid of those pesky macros. While it didn’t work as perfectly as I’d hoped, the Peregrine is still a well-designed and comfortable piece of gaming hardware. The only downside might be it’s currently a left-hand-only device, but if it’s successful enough, who knows? They might just make a right-handed glove and we can all pretend we’re Tom Cruise in Minority Report as we play Champions Online or Starcraft II.

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About Brian Szabelski