Posts

Gaming Hardware Benefits from Force Measurement Solutions

When you think of the video game industry, hardware doesn’t quite get the same attention as the games themselves. Yet, the virtual environments and the software development that goes into creating one of the largest entertainments and now sporting sectors in the world, only operates when you have good hardware solution.

Whether it is the monitor, gaming chair, keyboard, controller, or computer, they all need to endure the enthusiasm of active and competitive gamers. This means each device must go through rigorous testing in the lab before it is ever released to the consumer.

Interface provides a variety of test and measurement solutions for gaming hardware manufacturers, from precision load cells of large and small sizes to wireless instrumentation and digital output modules for integration into simulation components.

One of the most popular gaming genres in the world is racing. It has elevated from single user experiences to the growing and ultra-competitive eSports phenomenon. The physical hardware of gaming pedals, chairs, and steering devices that a gamer uses to move and break the car in a virtual world is critical to creating a true experience.

As an example, the player expects the pedal to provide the feedback and feel of a real race car to not only immerse themselves in the game, but also to improve their performance and accuracy. To create a high-quality gaming pedal, sensors are used in the design engineering and manufacturing of these devices.

Load cells are a key component of a gaming brake pedal. In development and product design, force measurement testing utilizes load cells to help gaming pedal manufacturers perfect the amount of force needed to slow or stop a virtual car in various situations. It also is a benefit for testing durability and reliability.

Testing is also just one application of force measurement. These same sensors are carried over into the actual manufacturing process. Load cells are often integrated into the design of the gaming pedal to measure force in real time during play. This type of OEM solution enhances the overall gamer’s experience because it helps to improve performance of the pedal.

Interface develops a wide variety of highly accurate and reliable force measurement sensors for these types of applications. In addition, we also provide wireless strain bridge transmitters and data acquisition devices, as well as the software needed to create an entire force measurement system for measuring gaming pedals. In fact, we recently had the opportunity to develop a system that would measure brake pedals used for virtual racing.

Included below is an application note we put together to demonstrate the type of system we can develop, as well as the process used to help our customer develop a premium gaming brake pedal.

GAMING SIMULATION BRAKE PEDAL

When a gaming company, our customer, wanted to switch from standard racing pedals to a load cell based pedal system for their racing simulation game, they turned to Interface. Compared to the standard racing simulation pedals, load cell pedals are more advanced and offer more accurate results. Their goal was to find a wireless system that measures the strength of the pressure received by the pedals that will detect the perfect amount of braking power.

Interface provided a BPL Pedal Load Cell, which can be installed onto the gaming brake pedal to measure the force applied when someone puts their foot on it. Forces are measured and recorded using the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules, where data is transmitted to the WTS-BS-6 Dongle Base Station when connected to the customer’s PC or laptop.

Using Interface’s BPL Pedal Load Cell, the customer was able to measure and record the pedal forces applied to their racing gaming brake pedals. In comparison to traditional simulation pedals that measure the distance of the pedals when pressed, Interface’s load cell pedal system provided a more realistic experience for gamers.

The applications for Interface load cells grow larger every year. Hardware manufacturers want more data to help improve their products and confirm their designs through test and measurement. Interface is proud to be the world’s leading provider of the most accurate and reliable sensors. From gaming to farming and everything in between, chances are Interface has a solution for that can fit your exact requirements. If we don’t, we have the expertise to work directly with our customers to help develop a custom solution that is guaranteed to fit!

To learn more about Interface and wide range of products and systems built for nearly every industry, call to speak to an application engineer to discuss your next project at 480-948-5555.

Load Cells for Consumer Product Applications

Typically, when engineers talk about load cells and their multitude of uses, it is assumed the applications are large-scale industrial projects like airplanes, rockets, and automobiles. However, did you know Interface load cells are regularly used for research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and end-of-line testing for countless consumer products?

Force is one of the most critical pieces of measurement in product development. This is especially true for consumer products that we interact with every day. Load cells are the tools that ensure products feel, handle and react the way they should in a consumer’s hand.

Here are a few examples showcasing how load cells touch almost everything the consumer touches.

A perfect example of a consumer product where force measurement plays a critical role in human interaction is in the abundance of numerous touch screens. Load cells are used in the R&D process to measure the accuracy, pressure, and sensitivity of the touch screen consumer interacts with on a minute-by-minute basis. The little things we don’t think about when using a tablet or smartphone, such as the smooth feeling of scrolling through social media pages, is possible because of testing using a load cell.

Another common consumer application type of load cells being used to improve product feedback and interaction is with simulation programs. High-end flight simulators often use load cells to measure the force of haptic feedback on the joysticks or chair when interacting with a flight simulator. The feeling of drag or rough winds a pilot experiences in a simulation is measured and refined for accuracy using a load cell.

Load cells are also an integral part of the manufacturing process for consumer goods. If you’ve ever seen a piece of candy with a logo stamped on it, chances are high a load cell was involved in determining the level of force to apply an exact brand stamp. Load cells are used on the stamping machine to ensure the right amount of force is used to apply the logo without crushing the candy.

In the food and drug industries, load cells are used in manufacturing facilities and on a wide variety of packaging machines. They are used for ultrasonic welding, which is the sealing process for plastic, paper or fabric shopping bags, garbage bags, and diapers. Potato chip assembly lines use load cells to weigh the bags as they fill them with chips to know when to stop and move on to the next bag. And the same stamping process used for candy in applying labels is used on pills.

Companies also incorporate load cells in end-of-line product testing. Furniture often goes through rigorous testing to ensure reliability. The furniture has various loads applied to it to confirm it can hold heavier weights over time, the furniture can also be bent and flexed to check the quality of the materials.  To reduce waste and ensure product quality, many consumer bottles use a torque transducer for end-of-line testing to test the proper cap implementation.

Batteries are another consumer product that goes through R&D and end of line testing to measure the force needed to damage the casing.  This is used to eliminate poorly designed and assembled batteries, as the acid inside can do immense harm if a child or adult is able to accidentally crush one.

Force measurement is also something that plays a role directly in the products we use. For instance, scales we use to weigh ourselves, food, and more, have load cells in them. Racecar gaming brake pedals are another example. High-end racing simulators need their brake pedal to be very accurate at measuring the amount of force applied to it to react as a real car would. Load cells are implemented in the base to provide accurate force readouts to the simulator in real-time.

Most products we all interact with every day have had some force testing or are currently using a sensor to manage its use and reliability.  Other consumer products that use Interface load cells, in all capacities and models, include treadmills, skis, bicycles, coffee makers, gaming brake pedals, boats, golf balls, desk drawers, guitars and robotic vacuums. And that is just to name a few.

Load cells and other force measurement tools like torque transducers are an integral part of developing, testing, and manufacturing reliable and accurate consumer goods. Think about this the next time you are handling your smartphone or carrying in groceries from the store. None of it would be possible without the use of force measurement equipment.

Contributor:  Kim Williams, Business Development Manager at Interface