In 1989, the console market saw the launch of the first peripheral to
attempt to use motion-based controls to allow you to issue commands to
your game. This marvel of modern technology was known as the Power
Glove. It was featured in the video game cult classic movie, "The
Wizard," and eventually even reached the vaunted heights of becoming an
Because it style="font-style: italic;"> bombed.
"It's so bad."
Yes. Yes it is.
Reach out and
touch some games.
Critics of the Power Glove said that it actually decreased the gamer's
ability to accurately control the games you played with it. This bulky,
poorly designed and ill-fitting device took up most of your right arm
from the elbow on down, and really did... nothing. Only two games were
ever released that specifically supported its use, and the company that
built and distributed it in Japan actually went out of business as a
result of this ill-conceived device.
Given such a rocky history, it's no wonder that Brent Baier, CEO of
Iron Will Innovations, bristles a bit when folks call his invention -
The Peregrine - a modern-day Power Glove. And truth be told, the two
have almost nothing in common, even right down to which hand they are
equipped on. Although, he did admit when interviewed that the NES Power
Glove was one among many inspirations for coming up with The Peregrine
The Peregrine is a lightweight glove that fits on your left hand. Three
different sizes are available, so you don't have to worry about the
perils of a "one size fits none" predicament. Along the back of the
hand, and up the fingers, are a series or sensors that, when they
contact the touch pads on the thumb or palm, execute a keyboard-based
command. That's right - this device is recognized by your OS
as a keyboard. Meaning that any commands (or combinations thereof) that
could be issued by typing, can instead be issued using The Peregrine.
The Peregrine's tagline
"Touch For The Win"
Commands are executed each time a contact circuit is created
by touching one of the three sensor pads to a specific point along the
spring-like 'traces' that run the length of all four of your fingers.
The pod on the back of the glove is able to sense the exact point
you've touched along the traces, and execute the appropriate
pre-programmed command or macro based on the choices made during
configuration and calibration. In total, I count a possible 32
combinations of macros with this device, ranging from thumb-tip and
index tip (the classic "OK" symbol) down to a complicated hand
contortion that would put my thumb knuckle in contact with the base of
my ring finger. The latter is hardly intuitive, but may make a good
position for one of those last minute "OH CRAP!" buttons that you
rarely need to fire, and would be a lot easier than something like
The quality of the physical device is top-notch. The fabric breathes
nicely and has extra ventilation points sewn in at strategic locations,
and the unit is also completely hand washable! The connection point on
the back features gold-plated contact points for extra reliability, and
the contact cables that run over the length of the glove are stitched
tightly to the glove and run no apparent risk of coming detached no
matter how rigorously you play.
The Pod is detachable,
magnetic, stores your profiles and features a customizable LED.
The connection pod also features a
standard USB 2.0 connection and a snap-away magnetic connection that
reduces the risk of injury to you or the device due to sudden
movements. As a very subtle added feature, the pod's "always
on" status removes those pesky connected/disconnected sound effects
that some other devices spam you with when their magnetic connections
are broken. A wireless model will "eventually" be produced,
but since The
Peregrine is currently targeting an audience of pro-gamers that rarely
use wireless devices (latency and battery death are unacceptable!) the
device only comes as a wired model.
Included with the glove is a copy of their easy to use GloveBox
software which is used to calibrate and customize the touch sensitive
areas of the device. I was surprised at the ease with which I could set
up commands through a simple series of intuitive clicks. The icing on
the cake however, is that any changes made to your calibration profiles
are actually stored within the device itself, instead of writing to
your system. Meaning that you can take The Peregrine with you wherever
you game, and never have to worry about having to recalibrate it upon
arrival at your destination. The "Pod" on the back of the glove can
store many different profiles, each with up to 5 different keymaps.
Screenshot of the
GloveBox calibration software.
So... it looks great, and it's easy to calibrate. But how does it
The Peregrine is designed to be a keyboard replacement for games that
don't actively require typing. With the growing popularity of
voicechat, the list of games that fall under this umbrella is growing
A pro gamer demonstrated
the glove in DOTA at PAX 2009.
According to Brent Baier, the glove was initially intended to
be an interface device for use with strategy games (such as style="font-style: italic;">Starcraft,
Defense of the Ancients,
or the Civilization
series) but has seen a
growing popularity among MMOG players, primarily among high-end raiders
and PvPers where shaving a quarter- or half-second off of your
reaction time can mean the difference between success and failure.
I was also surprised to learn that this device is seeing an upswing in
adoption among 3D graphic artists and architects, as well as video and
sound editors. The availability of having over 30 commands mapped to
your fingertips can, in some software suites, completely eliminate the
need for a keyboard during the bulk of the creative process.
After hearing so many good things about the ways this device was being
used, I was anxious to get right into some serious gaming and see for
myself - first-HAND - how it performed. For the purposes of this
review, I tried out the glove with several popular modern titles:
- Civilization V
- Fallout New Vegas
- DC Universe Online
- Star Trek Online
I'll first give you a brief description of my experience while using
The Peregrine with each of these titles, and then summarize my overall
experience and impressions.
After mapping a few submenus to the "prime real estate" finger tips and
side of my index finger, I dug into an intense match to bring my
version of the Romans into the Space Age. Within just a few short
hours, I found myself wishing that I could also abolish the mouse, as
I'd already mastered the commands that I had initially mapped, and
added a handful more to my repertoire of gestures. With my hand seated
comfortably on my armrest, instead of twisted around into a keyboard
location, I lounged back and commanded my budding empire to victory
with ease in total comfort.
However, this game is just as friendly for mouse-only use. The addition
of this peripheral actually adds a layer of unnecessary complexity,
despite how easily it was integrated. Without being able to get rid of
using the mouse, the general standard of living provided by The
Peregrine was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and did
not improve the quality of my gaming performance. Other than feeling
like a bit of a badass while wearing it.
This game would've been
easier to control with a golf club.
Right off the bat it was obvious that this was going to be an uphill
battle. The only movement method available for a keyboard+mouse setup
is the classic WASD configuration for the left hand, which meant
learning to quickly swap between keyboard and glove use for issuing
commands. It didn't take long for me to decide it was a lost cause, as
this particular title has a great default keymap that the Peregrine
doesn't improve upon.
Not willing to write it off completely, I then tried playing using my
trusty controller, with the Peregrine still attached to the left hand.
Still no advantage, as the commands available to me were already at my
fingertips on the controller itself.
Honestly, I anticipated this, since the Peregrine was never intended
for use in a FPS game. Though it has been successfully utilized by
professional gamers in such an environment, the learning curve is too
steep to offset the performance gain, in my opinion.
Ahh! Now we get into the land of MMOGs... almost. DCUO actually has
more in common with an Action RPG in terms of interface design, and
still makes use of the standard WASD control scheme for movement. I was
up against the same speedbump as I faced in FNV, but with a much
different motivation. The UI layout and keymap design of DCUO is not as
intuitive and simple as FNV, and the added benefit of mapping many
menus and command sets to my fingertips actually improved my way of
life in this game quite a bit. Additionally, combat can be loosely
controlled via mouselook and melee combat maneuvers, enabling my left
hand to leave the keypad even in the thick of combat. I even went so
far as mapping my push-to-talk key for in-game voicechat directly to
the glove for easy access, as I eventually found my hand was more
frequently floating above the keys than actually in contact with them.
But again, I struggled with the disagreements between the glove's ease
of use, and the barrier between myself and my keyboard. When it came
time to type, I found myself staring at my keys and typing by sight
instead of by touch. My maneuverability in game also suffered due to
this same lack of tactile sensation from the keys.
Using the Peregrine in conjunction with a controller turned
out to be the best of both worlds for this game. I now had full control
and freedom of movement, and the added menu shortcuts now mapped to my
fingertips eliminated a lot of the frustration of the game's UI. But
again, no typing. Once I made this swap, I had to officially commit
myself completely to voicechat.
Star Trek Online
By far, the game that saw the best use of this product was
style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Online.
The strategic space battle sequences, coupled with the ability to
maneuver my ship via mouselook, enabled me to play the game comfortably
with my hand completely off the keys. This is really where the glove
shines - when you can completely remove the keyboard. The two different
interfaces really do not play well together.
As an added bonus, this game's space combat features so many different
available abilities at high level ranges that I was able to really put
myself through the wringer on learning a complex set of finger-based
commands. In the end, the glove performed like a champ after I'd
overcome the learning curve of so many different commands. After a few
short hours, I had almost completely shed myself of the need to touch
my keyboard for space combat.
So many buttons!
The perfect playground
for The Peregrine!
I could not find a comfortable and intuitive keymap for ground combat,
but that was primarily because I didn't spend much time trying. After
perfecting my layout for space, I found that it was so enjoyable to
kick back and play Captain using The Peregrine, that I didn't want to
land my away team and calibrate a second set of commands. However,
since STO features a mouselook run mode in ground combat, I can see a
way it could be accomplished.
Overall style="font-weight: bold;">Experience
The incompatability of this device and a standard keyboard due to a
lack of tactile sensation remains the largest hurdle I can see in
encouraging widespread use. Especially in MMOGs where typing remains
many peoples' preferred method of communication.
In environments where typing is either not the standard, or can be
easily substituted with voicechat, The Peregrine excels as a complete
Your Hand: The Ultimate
Use of the fingertip macros is much faster than seeking out many
commands or combos on keyboards, and I personally found my reaction
times improve quite a bit once I'd learned to properly calibrate and
map my commands. Further use of this peripheral would only further
improve my performance and ease of use, without ever becoming a
detriment to the overall experience of gaming. I can completely see how
many professional gamers now swear by this peripheral as their
"keyboard" of choice due to the reaction time increase and comfortable
long-term use. No carpal tunnel from this baby!
The human hand is a peripheral that each of us interacts with a
countless number of times on a daily basis. The act of touching your
index finger to the tip of your thumb is an action that can be done
without thinking, and almost identically every time. Meanwhile,
utilizing a keyboard can sometimes require using your eyes to locate
the next command, or even contorting your hand into unnatural positions
in order to effectively execute your in-game abilities. Given the
choice, it should be obvious which will render a more natural and
intuitive experience. And from my personal experience, I can state
without question that this is the case. When I say that The Peregrine
puts the game into the palm of your hand, I'm not just making a bad pun.
I'm especially looking forward to using this device in conjunction with
click-based action games like Torchlight,
and Dungeon Seige III,
since eliminating the keyboard seems completely feasible and the use of
The Peregrine is likely to increase both my performance and my
enjoyment of these titles. I could also see this product being a boon
to MMOGs that suffer from an overwhelming glut of hotkeys like style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons & Dragons Online
and World of Warcraft,
though only if you've dedicated yourself to giving up the
keyboard since the two don't work well in conjunction.
The performance to price ratio on this product is questionable. With
a $150 price tag, it's a larger monetary investment than many
gamers are willing to spend on a peripheral, and even more risky when
you're talking about an entirely new type of hardware. In the end, any
potential owner needs to be sure that they're willing to dedicate the
time per game to calibrate and learn to properly use the glove, and
ensure that the type of game that they love playing would benefit from
a more intuitive left-hand interface (there is currently no right-hand
version of this product). I'd definitely recommend it to any gamer that
also does creative computer-based work in their spare time, be it CAD
or 3D modeling or Photoshop or whatever. This type of user will receive
an added benefit from the device that may end up paying for itself in
the long run!
The Peregrine is not currently available in most retail stores, but can
be purchased online target="_top">directly from Iron Will Innovations,
or target="_top">on Amazon.com, for US$149.95 plus
shipping and handling.