Novint Falcon Haptic Input Device to Ship in June 2007

One of the more creative PC game input devices I have seen in some time (and first reported on here), is the Novint Falcon.

At CES here in Las Vegas this week, Novint finally announced a ship date and pricing for the device. The Falcon will ship on June 18, 2007, and is available for pre-order now in a limited edition bundle at http://www.novintfalcon.com for a price of $189. The pre-order bundle includes the Novint Falcon game controller device, a copy of Newton’s Monkey Business (a set of mini-games strangely reminiscent of Super Monkey Ball on the Nintendo Wii), a free game download from Novint’s Online Game Service and membership in the Falcon First Club.

The full retail price of the Novint Falcon will be $239 when it ships in June.

What makes the Novint Falcon so different is that it is a haptic device, meaning that it provides physical feedback. For example, in the Half-Life 2 demo I tried, I could actually feel the recoil when firing various weapons because the Falcon would jerk up and to the right, just as a real gun would. Similarly, when opponents were firing upon me, the controller would jerk in a direction to indicate the force of being hit, allowing me to quickly locate the source of attack. The use of the Falcon is very intuitive, although I suspect that with extended game play my arm would tire. Although, arguably, that means it might be good exercise too.

The launch price for the device is significantly higher than the $99 price Novint had bandied about last May at the E3 Show in Los Angeles, but for a haptic device of this complexity, probably not unreasonable. The biggest challenge that Novint faces is getting game developers to support their device natively in PC games, but they assured me that they were working on that effort.

I certainly look forward to playing with it when it ships because it really is one cool device. And I hope they overcome the market hurdles such innovation and uniqueness tend to face.