Update July 9, 2019: It seems Microsoft has now patented designs (via WindowsLatest) very similar to these. Perhaps this is one research project that may see the light of day as a real product. We'll have to wait and see!
With Microsoft looking to bring "console quality" streaming to phones and tablets with Project xCloud, how will the company achieve that when touch controls are still pretty bad? It seems the company is looking to bring physical controllers to mobile devices to offset this problem, according to these Microsoft Research papers.
The research paper documents some of the popular solutions to gaming via a touch screen, while hailing the Nintendo Switch and other portable game consoles for circumventing touch-based control limitations with full joysticks and buttons.
Microsoft built the prototypes out of foam and then had them 3D printed, based on conceptual renders. The work was carried out quite a while ago, back in 2014, but it seems Microsoft Research has resurfaced their efforts recently, noting the recent success of the Nintendo Switch.
While this research may be far away from turning into an actual product, it's pretty imperative that Microsoft takes a serious role in exploring how it can improve the way Xbox games will handle on a mobile device to help take Project xCloud mainstream. Touch-based inputs have always felt like a half-way solution, and will feel even more like one when they come up against games designed from the ground-up for responsive, tactile inputs.
Would you like to see an Xbox controller like this hit store shelves for your phone or Surface Go? Let us know in the comments.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!