Wednesday, January 03, 2007

starting the new year with a bang

Novint is planning some big announcements next week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and our blog readers are getting an exclusive sneak peak of what’s to come. While at the show, we plan to announce the Falcon’s final pricing and launch date, details on some of our launch titles, as well as some other surprises. Keep an eye out for these announcements in a press release going out on January 6th.

As we look forward to an exciting 2007, we can also look back at an extremely eventful and successful 2006. Our company went public (trading on the OTC:BB under NVNT) and continued to assemble a great team and build a fun work environment. On the technology side of things, the Falcon got a slick new look, we added a quick-disconnect feature to the Falcon’s handle for easy swapping between different grips, we incorporated many new games to the list of titles set to be available at launch, and we announced that VTech will manufacture the Novint Falcon.

We also won awards from several prestigious sources in the gaming and consumer electronics world in anticipation of our launch. The Falcon won the “IGN Best of E3: Gear” award in a category that included the Wii remote. The Falcon was one of three finalists in the “IGN Best of E3: Hardware/Peripheral” award, alongside the PS3 console and the Wii controller. The Falcon was a Gamespot Finalist for “E306 Editor’s Choice Award: Best Hardware,” again as one of three finalists alongside the PS3 and the Wii. Recently, Novint was also named “Innovations 2007 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree” by the Consumer Electronics Association.

As part of the Innovations Award honor, the Novint Falcon will be highlighted at the 2007 International CES, which runs January 8-11, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Innovations Plus at the Sands, which showcases the hottest technologies in the consumer electronics industry. It will also be featured at Novint’s booth 72924 in the new CES Gaming TechZone in the Sands Expo. We’re honored to be invited to show off the Falcon in such a prominent venue—it’s a great way to start off the new year.

As we move forward, much of our focus will be on preparing for launch, and we want your help in getting ready. Tell your family about the Falcon. Tell your friends about the Falcon. Tell strangers about the Falcon. The more Falcons we sell, the more we can expand with many more great games and software.

We also want your help in setting some of our direction. We want to hear what Novint Falcon games folks are anticipating most, what software and genres they most want to see that we are missing, and what games you would most like to see expanded with additional levels and gameplay. We still have some flexibility before launch, and a lot of flexibility for titles to come out soon after launch – we want to give you what you want. Let us know what you want to see available for launch, and of course feel free to write about anything else you want to discuss on our blog. 2007 should be an exciting year for Novint!

99 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck with CES. Games are a great way of introducing the Falcon to the public. I sincerely hope you've been able to get some of the popular games like World of Warcraft Falcon-enabled.

Has anyone at Novint looked at utilizing haptics with the interface of an operating system such as Windows? Can the Falcon, or a haptics device similar to the Falcon make a day-to-day computer user more efficient?

Good luck

Anonymous said...

I hope you are also planning to launch a new website (or at least new content) with the introduciton of the Falcon. I am tired of looking at the same old news stories and updates. Some of them are really old now anyways. The site is too jam packed with mediocre information. you should clear it out. Pick a couple of key points and announcements leave those up there and move on. Cleaner, sleeker, better, just like the new Falcon itself.

1 Falcon please.!!!

Novint said...

re: CES

Thank you for the well wishes. We anticipate that this CES will be a landmark for Novint. Please stay tuned for the announcements we'll be making between now and the Falcon's launch.

Novint said...

re: The Falcon and your desktop

Your question regarding the Falcon and Windows is a good one.

I'll start by saying that the Novint Falcon got its name because a falcon is a predator of the mouse. In short, we believe the Falcon is a viable replacement for the standard mouse in virtually any application -- it can do everything a mouse can (track, point, click, drag and drop, for instance), PLUS it adds the phenomenal power of 3D touch.

So, could the Falcon, or a device like it, be used to navigate your desktop?

The answer is this: If the operating system had been specifically designed to support touch (i.e. objects on the screen were "tagged" with information about their texture, weight, etc.) then yes, you would be able to feel those objects on your desktop.

This would be a good point to re-state that the Falcon only works with applications that have "touch tags" added to them (which takes some software development work). I don't want to accidentally give the impression that the Falcon is currently set up to work with any operating system. I'm only stating that it *could* work in theory, if the proper development work were to be done. I hope that's clear.

I should also say at this point that Novint has not announced any plans to incorporate the Falcon into an operating system. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Novint said...

re: 3D touch and work efficiency

Another great question -- can the Falcon make you more efficient?

The Falcon definitely has the potential to make computer use more efficient (not to mention more fun).

Because touch is such an important tool for understanding and navigating the world in general, people often appreciate it when they can use this critical sense in their virtual lives as well.

Folks often find that the addition of touch to their computer experience makes it easier and more intuitive since we use touch so often in our day-to-day lives *off* the computer.

We find this to be true in our software development contract work. One of Novint's primary roles is to develop software for companies who hope to make their workplace more efficient and effective. Our goal is to take their existing software and add touch to it (or to create an entirely new program) so that their employees gain an edge.

For instance, a university hospital might be seeking a more efficient way to train medical students to perform complex procedures. A touch-enabled surgical training simulation may be the answer.

In short, I believe that the Falcon can definitely make a computer user more efficient. My experience is that once people try it, they immediately imagine how it could make one of their daily computer-related tasks easier or more enjoyable.

Novint said...

re: our website

We plan to add new pages to the site shortly. Please be on the lookout, and thanks for reading.

Novint said...

re: Press release date

The date for the press releases should have read 1/8, which is the first official day of CES. I apologize for the typo.

Anonymous said...

RE: Desktop & Applications Efficiency

Thank you for response to my questions. Your answers were very informative.

Has Novint worked on adding haptics technology to finite element analysis? I'm a structural engineer who routinely performs analyses on a variety of structures. Typical output is deformed shapes and stress contours on objects. Interpretation of results data is a visual task. I like to think adding touch to this type of work would be beneficial. There are all sorts of FEA software out there:
ANSYS, ABAQUS, GTSTRUDL....just to name a few.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Here's to Novint making a huge bang, or splash at CES tomorrow.

Novint said...

re: What can you touch with a Novint Falcon?

(also, re: finite element analysis)

Making a 3D object "touchable" isn't as difficult as it may seem.

Let's say you have a 3D object made up of polygons -- for sake of discussion, let's say it's a basketball. If you want to make that basketball touchable, you would essentially have to add touch-related information to it.

This information would be about how spongy or rubbery the basketball is and what kind of texture it has -- basically, you would be trying to "tag" the basketball with instructions relating to how it should feel to the touch.

This "touch information" can either be stored directly in your application, or it can be embedded in the model itself. Either way, you would then be ready (assuming you had a Falcon and a touch-enabled application running) to touch the model of the basketball.

Having said all that, I'll try to address the question about finite element analysis (something I know next to nothing about).

I'm not sure if this qualifies as finite element analysis, but Novint has completed projects involving the use of touch to analyze the results of explosions. Since these "explosion models" were essentially no different than the 3D model of the basketball, they could be tagged with touch information in a similar way. However, because the explosion model was far more complex than the basketball (which feels the same over its entire surface), different touch information was used to portray the various parts of the model -- even the different temperatures in different areas.

I hope I haven't gotten the "finite element analysis" concept wrong, but I do think it's important to emphasize that the Falcon "doesn't care" what the object is -- as long as you're working in a touch-enabled application and the object has its "materials properties" defined, the Falcon can give you the sensation of realistic touch.

Novint said...

re: CES

It's 10:30 pm here in Las Vegas, and our booth is all ready for tomorrow, the official start of CES. We're looking forward to a great show. Thanks for all your support -- we'll do our best to make you proud.

Sharik said...

So far, all I have seen in your videos in regard to Falcon is sheer amazement and awe. The expressions on the people's faces are of genuine amazement as if they've just felt a magic trick. Seems as if not a single person out of that crowd had experienced such intense interaction between them and a video game! Ever!

Hats off to the development team, thank you guys for reinventing gaming the way it was meant to be.

This is so exciting! Eagerly waiting on more updates!

P.S. You better stock up on those pre-orders, because they'll be gone like The Rolling Stones tickets.

Anonymous said...

Sabrina Cook is HOT!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the new site content, the release date, and the exclusive release package! I can't wait to get my hands on the Falcon!! Even more so since I have seen the Veronica Bellmont video! I had no idea the action would be so violent. The Falcon was throwing her little frame around with every shot in the Half Life mod. Awesome!!

Novint said...

re: Falcon games

Thank you for the encouragement. We will do our best to create content that offers exciting, immersive, and novel experiences.

As always, if you have suggestions about the types of games we should touch-enable, please let us know.

Novint said...

re: Half-Life 2 Drivers

We plan to release our HL2 drivers at launch, so be on the lookout if you're interested.

Novint said...

re: Novint Falcon pre-orders

Go to www.novintfalcon.com for pre-orders if you're interested. We plan to ship these pre-orders on June 18.

Anonymous said...

Seems to be a problem with the pre-order web application, I can't receive an order confirmation and no answer at the toll-free number.

Novint said...

re: Pre-order site

If you have any trouble with the pre-order site, please be patient as we work out the launch kinks. We apologize for any delay or inconvenience.

Novint said...

re: Internet Explorer

Currently, our sites are best viewed with Internet Explorer.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking for the Press Release on Yahoo Finance and haven't seen it yet. Is it still coming today?

Novint said...

re: CES press releases

Our press releases were issued today, 1/8/07, so please be on the lookout for them. We're very excited about what we've announced.

Novint said...

re: CES, day one

It is the end of day 1, and we've had a very nice start to CES.

Some highlights...

- our Novint Falcon is featured in the "Innovations Honoree" section of the CES floor, where it is displayed in a nice case for the public to see...

- we've had a constant flow of traffic to our booth, and we've given countless demonstrations of the Falcon...

- we've had the opportunity to discuss many of the upcoming games scheduled for release with the Novint Falcon on 6/18/07, and the response has been enthusiastic so far...

- a number of folks have pre-ordered the Falcon right on the show floor. It's been gratifying to see that people are enthusiastic enough about the Falcon to order right away.

- our press coverage has been fantastic so far, with stories running on c/net, CNN, and slashgear, to name a few. Keep an eye open for more stories on the Novint Falcon at CES...

So far, so good. We've got a lot of work ahead of us this week, but we've started off wonderfully. We're going to continue to work our hardest to ensure that our CES 2007 is one to remember.

By the way, if you happen to be attending CES, please visit us. And if you like what you see, please cast a vote for the Novint Falcon for the People’s Voice award.

Anonymous said...

Temperature:
The lack of a sense of hot and cold is a missing part of the haptic sense of touch. Any comments on that descrepancy?

Novint said...

re: feeling hot and cold

It is true that the Falcon does not give a user sensations of hot or cold. In other words, the handle does not grow warmer or cooler depending on the object touched...

Is this something you would want?

Anonymous said...

Is Novint considering incorporating the Falcon's haptic technology for digital video? It would be a quirky but cool experience to touch whatever is on your television.

Anonymous said...

One writer commented that the Falcon feels so real you can't help feel a little guilty while smashing someone in a FPS scenario. Is there any concern that this experience will be a turn off for gamers, or worse, that non-gamers will try to get the device banned because the violence is "too real" for kids? Does Novint think it will encourage people to seek out even more "real" violence to the point of bashing a real person when away from the game? Doesn't the device at minimum raise questions about how much realism is too real? For instance, should we all know what it feels like to stomp on someones skull? Just asking...

Anonymous said...

Temperture may not be at the top of the list of capabilities for an interface, but in a slow moving game or perhaps an application that isn't a game at all. Perhaps just the representation of temperture on the screen would work in some situations too.

Novint said...

re: Using the Falcon to touch TV

Good question. It would be pretty sweet to be able to interact with various TV shows (someone previously mentioned "helping" the CSI team with a touch-enabled autopsy... not my personal cup of tea, but it would be interesting).

We have not currently announced plans to do this type of integration, but we'd certainly like to see our touch technology used anywhere and everywhere it makes sense.

Novint said...

re: Using the Falcon to sense temperature

I see your point. I suppose a grip that heats up or cools at appropriate moments is certainly possible. And it may even be pretty fun in some games (I can imagine getting a warm sensation when a laser rifle begins to overheat).

Currently, we have not announced any plans to incorporate heating or cooling into any grips, but temperature could be "represented" in other ways using the Falcon. For instance, the Falcon could be programmed to oscillate at a certain frequency when the user is touching something hot as well as something cold.

For instance, the Falcon handle could be made to shake side-to-side in big jerks when the substance touched is hot, while shaking side-to-side in small motions when the substance is cold.

This is just a thought though. Do you think that would be interesting/effective or not?

Anonymous said...

Shaking to represent hot or cold would be ineffective and defeat the purpose of the Falcon anyways. Games have always used a surrogate to represent action or feeling or something else (a series of bars to represent force used in driving a golf ball for example) that you are supposed to feel. The Falcon should avoid this entirely. Its advantage is that it will deliver as real an experience as possible. If heat or cold could be generated then great, do it. If not, then don't bother, it would detract from the reality of the experience in my opinion.

One situation in which temperature would really be useful is if in a FPS you kill a beast, then have to retreive an item from inside the beast (its heart let's say). Retreiving the heart (to ingest for power/strength, etc.) would be enhanced by the Falcon because you will feel the slime, the resistance of the tissues as you pull the heart out, and the warmth of the blood on your hands. If you could make it real enough that some people actually become ill playing it...you will have a HUGE hit on your hands!!! : )

Anonymous said...

When will the Falcon be available in the EU? And will there also be such a discount for European residents?

Anonymous said...

What other handles are possible at the moment? I see no information on those so may I suppose none?

Could for example a gear stick be a possible handle? Or a steering wheel, although force feedback steering wheels do already exist. But it would be interesting to have one device for all types of games.
You could maybe even combine both using two falcons, one representing a steering wheel and the other having the gear stick.

Would it be possible to build a home made handle? Is there an API which would be usable? Or for the open source game creation community, is there an API (drivers only or also including force algorithms) which can be used freely to create touch enabled application?

Just some questions on the tip of my tongue..

Novint said...

re: Selling the Falcon overseas

We are currently working to ensure compliance with the regulations of various countries outside the US. Until we do, however, the Falcon is only available in the US.

We are committed to bringing the Falcon to a larger audience -- please allow us the time to go through the proper channels.

We will provide updates on our site when the Falcon will be available outside of the US. At that time, we will provide details regarding pricing. Thank you for your patience.

Novint said...

re: Novint Falcon API

Novint considers it a very high priority to provide an API to game developers and others interested in integrating touch into their software applications.

We are currently working to finalize an SDK as part of our developers program. Please keep an eye on our site, or email us at games@novint.com.

Novint said...

re: Falcon grips

The rounded grip (handle) that is featured on the Falcon models shown in photographs and videos is primarily for demonstration purposes.

This is not likely to be the grip that ships with the actual unit once it is sold to the public. We have not finalized the shape or button configuration of the grip on the retail version of the Falcon.

In addition to the grip that will ship with the Falcon, Novint also plans to offer additional grips for sale. These grips would be made in various shapes and button setups, and would either be tailored to specific games or to different tastes.

Grips such as a gun handle, an airplane's yoke, an upright joystick, or a golf club shaft are all possibilities, but no specific plans for grips have been announced.

We will keep you updated, and if you have any suggestions, your feedback is always appreciated.

Novint said...

re: CES, day 2

It's the end of day 2, and we've reached the halfway point of the show. It's been a great time so far.

Some highlights from today...

- Wil Wheaton. He stopped by and did a bit of filming with the Falcon. Some of us were a little starstruck, but we did manage to give a demonstration. He was a really down-to-earth guy...

- the steady stream of interested folks. It's really nice to see that people care enough to come to our little corner of CES to see the Falcon. We've been lucky enough to meet a bunch of great people from some established companies as well as some up-and-comers. It's been a great pleasure so far...

- seeing how the Falcons perform. Between the Game Developers Conference, E3, and CES (plus all the other demonstrations we give in between), these demo Falcons have really been put to the test. Yet, in demo after demo, they continue to hold up well. It's not that we weren't confident they would -- it's just nice to see they can stand up to the demands of consistent gameplay, and still deliver realistic touch, time and time again...

- creating "touch evangelists". Usually, when someone tries the Falcon, they love it. But one thing that also happens often is that people tell their friends and colleagues *how much* they loved it. Then they bring these people over to our booth so they can try it too. Hearing someone tell their friend, "You gotta try this," is amazing for us. It's a great feeling to see people spread the word about our product, not because there's something in it for them, but because they're excited and they WANT to.

Anyway, that's it for day 2. Keep your comments coming.

Novint said...

re: How real is TOO real?

The question above regarding realism and gaming is an excellent one.

At a high level, this is an issue the entire game industry faces, not just Novint. We understand that the extreme level of realism that our technology provides puts a bit of a twist on the question, but we think the analysis that the game industry has used on this issue and the resulting conclusions are the same.

Like movies, tv, and most any other medium, there is content that is not appropriate for children. Our games, like any others will have game ratings that people should follow. Adults will likely have access to more mature content.

Additionally, to put the issue in perspective, our technology is simply that - a technology that lets people use their sense of touch. Televisions can show mature concepts and speakers can play mature songs.

Similarly, like many technologies, our technology has many wonderful, beneficial applications. Our business model is to license our hardware and software to others, who will create their own content. We anticipate a day when all doctors will learn many of their procedures using 3D touch, enhancing many lives (as doctors can learn a procedure well, and be prepared for complications or differing anatomies, rather than learning it on live patients). We can use the technology as interfaces for the blind, for stroke rehabilitation, or for educational games and toys. It can be used for scientific analysis, CAD/CAM, as a way to connect with others over the internet, and of course for entertainment. Overall, we think our technology is going to significantly change the world for the better.

Anonymous said...

Marketing Idea: You guys should set up Novint displays in stores where games are sold (toys R us?). The display shoud be just the Falcon and a screen in front of a huge black curtain/background, with 15" lettering stating - "Go Ahead, Touch It." as the only graphics on the background. Item on screen they touch should be interesting enough to hold their attention for a 15-20 seconds. People will scramble to try it. This is also the only way that people will really "grasp" the concept. Get it in the hands of the users.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the market potential in the "adult" gaming/entertainment industry?

Anonymous said...

Great job with the CES Show in Vegas. It looks like it was a great success both for the product and the stock. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Difference in gravity:
If you had a "game" on the moon with that very different gravity. Or if the the game character was under water. The question is would you, thru the Falcon, be feeling that "lite" feeling, as you move the effector handle?

Novint said...

re: CES is over

CES is officially "in the books," and we just finished packing up. It's time to head back to the office so we can continue to prepare for our June 18th Falcon launch.

We'd like to thank everyone who came by to visit our booth during the show, and all the people who have been cheering for us back home. Your support makes a tremendous difference.

Novint said...

re: marketing idea

That's a very intriguing idea. We agree that providing opportunities for the public to try the Falcon is crucial. 99% of the time, once people experience 3D touch on their computer, they're hooked.

Novint said...

re: The Gravity Game

Our technology could be quite effective in simulating weightlessness or a reduction in gravity -- great idea.

Novint said...

re: success at CES

The Falcon made a great impression at CES 2007. Please see our website for links to some of the press we've received so far.

Thanks again for all your encouragement.

The Kid in Frasier said...

"Virtual Reality," even to the point of a Matrix-style nervous system interface, has been one of my dreams for a long time, so anything that moves us toward that point is very exciting for me. I have always wanted a haptic system for 3D design and visualization, but the new prospect of using it for gaming is great!

The only fundamental thing I don't like about the Falcon is its limited motion when compared to things like the Wii-mote. Things I would like to see in future versions of the Falcon: greater range of motion, twisting and rotating functionality, two-handed systems (possibly just two Falcons linked through software), a similar but obviously specialized system for your feet (for sitting or standing use), a simpler, moving seat device (maybe, if it could be made cheap enough)... I think you see what I'm getting at: Total Force Feedback. The foot device could also be used for exercise games or programs, like an elliptical runner, stationary bike, stair-climber, and more all in one, but interactive and a lot more fun. Combined with a surround sound headset, existing 3D-glasses technology and a wrap-around monitor, this would be the ultimate gaming system for almost any type of game. Imagine a force-feedback skiing or snowboarding game, or a 3D platform game with bouncy, sticky, and slippery surfaces to traverse, or a crazy virtual drum set... the list goes on and on.

One idea I have for a touch-enabled application for the current Falcon is a clay-modeling toy/art tool, where one could play with a selection of substances like clay; shaping, carving, mushing, smearing, etc., and then be able to save and/or "fire" it and view and feel the concrete result in 3D.

I may post more later, but this is all for now.

P.S. It seems like the temperature feature would be pretty easy to implement with a thermoelectric Peltier device.

Anonymous said...

I think a concourse booth in a mall would be the best place to display/demonstrate the Falcon. The use of a Toy-R-Us of course would require sales thru the store. And I think the other prime locations would be in college towns.

chy said...

I just want to say that the Falcon looks really amazing - I wish you guys at Novint good luck!

Are you going to make the API for the Falcon freely available, or will it be impossible to create applications for it without a special licence? Please make the API free if you can! It would create fantastic opportunities for indie and freeware developers, and would greatly increase the ease at which innovative games could be made for the Falcon.

Regards,

chy

Anonymous said...

I've read that a 6DOF variation of the now 3DOF Falcon may be in the future. Can you explain, in general, the differences as they would be perceived by the user of the interface. Any other comments on the subject would be appreciated too. Thankyou.

Novint said...

re: Adult entertainment

Novint has no plans to develop commercial content in the area of adult entertainment. For the most part, Novint does not intend to develop applications or content in the many areas that our technology will be applied. Instead, we plan to make our technology available to others so that they can develop applications and content. The exception is the video games space.

Anonymous said...

I've preordered already and I'm long forward to the haptic experience. I'm sure I'll be ordering long versions of several of the mini games although not sure which ones those will be. Btw your website does relate what to expect in the games well, very exciting. The Haptic Life2 sounds great too.

Anonymous said...

Your product looks great, i bought your stock, make me money please. Also will you be able to use 2 at the same time, so we can get some sort of pre-minority report thing going? I am also a bit worried about the durability, I dont know if its made of plastic or metal, i dont want it to break easily if you get alittle rough with it. You should also make your api freely available so any developer can use it. A dedicated modding community can make amazing things. Focus on your customers and your sales will follow.

Novint said...

re: Novint Falcon API

Thank you for your input. We plan to announce the details of our developer program in March at the Game Developers Conference.

As a general rule, however, we want to encourage as much development as we can with no up-front cost. We expect to charge fair and reasonable royalties for commercial use of our technology.

Novint said...

re: The Falcon's degrees of freedom

The grip (handle) interface for the Falcon was specified to allow full 6 DOF control and feedback (i.e. forces and tracking in x,y,z and roll, pitch, yaw) in addition to the ability to have any number of additional controls, buttons, handle shapes, etc. You may have seen the Falcon's quick disconnect feature that makes the grip-swapping process fast and effortless.

The addition of rotational tracking (i.e. tracking roll, pitch, and yaw) does add some added enhancement to games and other applications -- however, we have found during our game development that we can use 3 DOF to create exciting games across all genres.

That said, we are excited about the possibility of many additional grips that will continue to enhance games and other applications. For example, a steering wheel attached to the Falcon would let you rotate it to steer while still feeling all the forces the vehicle encounters (our Half-Life 2 driving is very compelling, and a steering wheel would be a cool enhancement to it). A pistol grip that would unlock a special weapon would be a fun grip as well. There are many possibilities. In other applications, a full 6 DOF interface could be valuable in positioning a scalpel, sculpting clay, a 6 DOF clipping plane in scientific visualization, or in swinging a sword more naturally. We haven't announced specific grips that we plan to make available, but in general, we plan to do some very exciting things with the Falcon's grips.

Novint said...

re: dual-wield Falcons

We do plan to develop applications where the use of 2 Falcons is enabled, although none have been announced at present. We expect to see games involving boxing, drumming, dual-wield weapons, and much more.

Furthermore, non-gaming applications such as surgery simulations could be made much more realistic using two Falcons.

Anonymous said...

Great videos of the Falcon!! Looks like CES was a success!

Can you provide us with a list of existing games you're developing drivers for?

Thanks

Novint said...

re: the strength of the Falcon

The Falcon was developed with gaming specifically in mind. As such, during the engineering process, it was designed to be strong and durable. As one example, a "stopper" was inserted to absorb impacts when the handle is pushed forward with force. We do not consider the Falcon to be delicate, nor was it designed to be babied.

However, we will also provide some basic guidelines for enjoying the Falcon. We see these guidelines as "common sense," and we don't anticipate they will interfere with normal gameplay. Furthermore, it is likely that games will be equipped with certain "triggers" that will let you know (via an in-game message of some kind) when you're using more force than the game requires.

In addition to all this, we plan to offer a reasonable warranty on the device. We feel that this combination of user guidelines, design durability, and in-game notifications will ensure that people will be able to enjoy normal gameplay with the Falcon for a long time.

Novint said...

re: Falcon video

Thanks for watching -- if you haven't seen the Falcon live, and you'd like to see it in action, check out the Falcon video at this address:
http://www.novint.com/novintfalcon.htm

Novint said...

re: upcoming Falcon drivers

As you may know, Novint has plans to create Falcon drivers for many of the games that have become blockbuster hits in recent years. Like we did for Half-Life 2, we plan to make many of the games you know and love "touchable" for the very first time.

We have not announced plans for specific titles, but we hope to make more information available at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March in San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

Can you address the issue of targeting/accuracy in a FPS? People on other boards/blogs assume that the Falcon will make them less accurate and in a competition would be a hinderance rather than enhance their game play. Will the Falcon make me a better gamer?

Novint said...

re: Falcon vs. the mouse

The question is: how does the Falcon stack up against the mouse in terms of speed and accuracy?

This topic has been addressed elsewhere on this blog, so I won't repeat everything. However, here are a few points to consider:

- Falcon-users haven't reported any loss of speed or accuracy during gameplay

- Many Falcon-users report that the Falcon is actually easier to use than their mouse

- Our technology can be used in training simulations where accuracy and precision are absolutely critical, such as applications for surgeons or bomb disposal techs.

Novint said...

re: Can the Falcon make you a better gamer?

This is an interesting question. I assume by "better gamer" you mean: can the Falcon help me shoot the bad guys before they shoot me first?

If this is what you mean, see my previous post on speed and accuracy in FPS games. In general, Falcon-users haven't reported any loss of speed or accuracy after playing with our device.

Having said that, would YOU become a better gamer with the Falcon? Much of the answer comes down to your preferences. Some FPS players may not want to actually feel the weight of their weapons, feel the recoil during a gun battle, or feel their character take damage. Others may find that these realistic force-effects actually take their game to another level of performance, realism, and fun. I encourage you to try the Falcon and judge for yourself.

Now, moving away from the first-person shooter genre and speaking in more general terms, can the Falcon make you a better player? We think so. We believe that the more you can get into your character's skin, the better the experience. When you can feel what your character is feeling, you are in a better position to make the right decisions and to act decisively in-game.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you guys run an ad during the Superbowl?

Novint said...

re: Can you use the Falcon in place of a mouse in any application?

I got this question via email:

"Out of curiosity, will the controller work as a replacement mouse? I'm wondering because I think the technology is amazing, and I would like to use it for all functions on my PC. I have several games that I play on a regular, including World of Warcraft, Doom3, and Star Wars KOTOR II, among others. I also utilize several other applications on a regular basis, such as internet browsers, music/video programs, etc. Basically, everything a normal PC user would use. Will the Falcon allow me to control the curser as a normal mouse, or are there specific drivers for every application?"

This is a great question, so I thought I'd include the answer here as well.

The Novint Falcon got its name because falcons eat mice -- in other words, we wanted the name to communicate the idea that the Falcon could, in theory, replace the mouse entirely. The Falcon is capable of doing everything the mouse does (pointing, clicking, dragging, dropping, selecting, etc.), plus it adds realistic 3D touch. (Someone once described it as "a mouse on steroids")

However, in order for any application to work with the Falcon -- from Doom 3 to your PC desktop -- that application must be touch-enabled first. In other words, the Novint Falcon must be "told" what the objects in the application are supposed to feel like -- how much they weigh, how they behave when moved, or how hard or soft they are, for example.

So the answer to your question is complex. At launch, the Falcon will NOT be able to control a cursor in every application the way a normal mouse does. The application has to be touch-enabled first.

However, the Falcon has all the capabilities of a mouse, so in touch-enabled applications it's all you need. For instance, in our version of Half-Life 2, the Falcon replaces the mouse entirely.

Let me know if this is unclear in any way.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the mouse replacement...could the Falcon be used as a mouse replacement without the haptics piece? In other words, while playing half life 2 I would get sensory feedback but in navigating the net feedback would be unnecessary so could I just use the falcon without having to wait for touch enablement to happen? I am not sure I am being clear enough either....

Novint said...

re: Can the Falcon be used WITHOUT 3D touch?

This is a good follow-up question.

If I'm understanding correctly, you're asking whether the Falcon could be used as a simple tracking/pointing device (like a normal mouse) in applications where touch has NOT been enabled.

The answer is no: you should not expect the Falcon to have any functionality OUTSIDE of touch-enabled applications. The Falcon was designed specifically to add realistic 3D touch to computing, and we have not announced any plans to enable it to act as a traditional point-and-click device.

In other words, the Falcon is meant to be an input AND output device -- not simply an input device.

Please keep in mind that Novint created the Falcon specifically so that the public would be able to use their sense of touch while on the computer. We believe that touch enhances the computer experience, whether the application is a simple game or a complex training simulation. And we hope to one day introduce 3D touch into web pages, TV shows, and even your computer desktop.

In other words, the Falcon is not "just another fancy mouse." It really is much more. We feel that the Falcon is truly unique and revolutionary -- something that has the potential to enhance the human-computer interaction in a fundamental way.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that the NON-ability for the Falcon to act as a regular mouse for all applications (Windows, Microsoft, etc) will be detrimental for sales? Personally, if I were using the Falcon and had to keep switching back and forth to my regular mouse when I wanted to switch between my game and other applications, it would be pretty painful...

Novint said...

re: Buying a Super Bowl ad

So what would that commercial look like? Walk me through it frame-by-frame.

Novint said...

re: using the Falcon as a mouse

If there is demand for using the Falcon in place of a regular mouse (for simple pointing and clicking on a desktop, for instance), we could certainly make that happen.

It would not be a problem, for instance, to provide a control panel for adjusting settings on mouse control. Again, the Novint Falcon has all the capabilites of a normal mouse, and we have already written drivers that implement regular mouse control. Specific grips (handles) designed for specific usage (such as standard mouse usage) could also be useful in this regard. These mousing capabilites are not likely to be available at launch, but it would be possible to add them.

However, our primary focus is really bringing fundamentally new interactions to computing, as I mentioned previously. Longer term, we believe that the standard ways that mice are used will be replaced with more advanced control techniques. It is Novint's vision that our technology will become ubiquitous across computing.

Novint said...

re: Novint Falcon API

I got another good question via email:

"i noticed the link for the drivers for half-life 2. i'm a half-way decent programmer. are drivers for the falcon going to be a) writable and executable by someone who doesn't work for your company, and b) relatively simple to write (like other drivers). i also run red hat linux on my machine, and most of the drivers for 3rd party devices need to be written for that OS."

We do expect that we will make our API available externally. However, we have not finalized the decision of whether to make access to our drivers low-level enough to actually port our drivers to other operating systems, for example. At a minimum, we anticipate that you will be able to create touch-enabled applications on the operating systems we will support (XP and Vista). We plan to announce more details regarding our developers program some time before mid-March at the latest, potentially sooner.

Anonymous said...

Superbowl ad:

-Parents enter the house.
-It is dark.
-Glow coming from a room down the hall.
-Parents look at each other. Unapproval and suspicion on their face.
-A teenage boy's voice from down the hall - "Go ahead...Touch it...pause..Can you feel it?"
-Parents making their way down the hall. Nervous look on their face.
- girls voice now - with excitement. "oh my god...I can really feel it...It feels amazing!!"
-parents running into the room now...Panick stricken! Flipping on the light.
- Two or three kids huddled around a desktop...cute girl with her hand delicately on the Falcon...kids looking back at parents...look on their faces of "what?"
- parents relieved. Dad says, "can I feel it too?"

cut to Novint symbol and Falcon image. Tag line..."Yes. You really can feel it."

Go home. Collect your Clio.

Novint said...

re: Super Bowl ad

I think you have something there...

Now if we can just come up with $2.6 million.

Anonymous said...

What are the current margins on the sale of the Falcon and do you anticipate that the margins will improve as you continue to streamline the process of making this product?

Novint said...

re: margins on the Falcon

Margins aren't something that we would discuss on a forum like this. However, I can say that the Falcon was designed to deliver high-quality, professional-level 3D touch specifically for consumers -- and to do so at a consumer price point.

Anonymous said...

Can you please discuss your marketing strategy? I realize that the CES was a great starting point to get the Falcon publicized however what future steps are you taking to ensure that the public is well aware of the Falcon, especially in time for the June launch date? Are there future conferences that you are attending? What sort of internal marketing strategies are you taking?

Novint said...

re: marketing strategy

As a publicly-traded company, Novint is limited in the speculative information it can provide.

However, what I can say is that we plan to offer the public opportunities to actually try out and experience the technology. A first-hand encounter with the Falcon is extremely compelling.

Novint said...

re: our next Falcon showing

We plan to show off the Falcon at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC), March 5-9.

http://www.gdconf.com/

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tom. I also found this information from the sight very helpful.

Novint Falcon: Adding realistic 3D touch into your games
Speaker: Tom Anderson (CEO, Novint Technologies Inc), Bill Anderson (Executive Producer, Novint Technologies Inc.)
Date/Time: Thursday (March 8, 2007) 9:00am — 10:00am
Location (room): 3011
Track: Game Design
Format: 60-minute Sponsored Session
Experience Level: All

Session Description
This session discusses the revolutionary capabilities of the Novint Falcon to add realistic, high-fidelity 3D touch to computer gaming across all genres. Learn about Novint's Developer Program, and get hands on experience in adding an entirely new user experience to video games. Specific examples and demos will be provided.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts - I would really like to see the falcon in different colors, like Black, becaue it looks more like an Apple "iFalcon". I've seen people get shoulder surgery from using the mouse too much, i cant imagine the sort of lawsuits this thing can bring. The fact that mouse functionality will not be availble until after launch is disappointing. Not only that, people may not want forcefeed back ALL the time, there should be a way to disable it. Also the size of the falcon is a bit on the big side, please consider making a smaller mini version so it can truly take place of the mouse. I believe that adding additional handles would become more of an annoyance than feature, people can be lazy and forgetful(losing their handles). Please consider these thoughts if you truly want to replace the mouse.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you can make the screenshots of your 24 mini-games "clickable" so that we can see the shots in full screen mode? I want a more detailed look at the graphics.

Anonymous said...

Marketing Idea - Any thought to using "mall kiosks" to market the Falcon. By doing this, I think it would drastically increase the breadth of people that will be exposed to the Falcon and would truly me a useful marketing technique.

Anonymous said...

When is the "limited offer" going to stop being available? I though it was only available until the end of CES. It appears it stil is.

Anonymous said...

The individual above that was complaining about various aspects of the Falcon reminds me of a guy who first gets into a Ford Model T in 1915 and complains about why the car doesn't have air conditioning or a GPS feature or even reclining seats! How dare Henry Ford created a vehicle that actually moves and can run over a person.

Novint said...

re: Falcon bundle offer

The Limited Edition Bundle will be available until they are sold out.

The CES special included an additional game download -- this is the part of the offer which has expired. But bundles are currently still available at the exclusive preorder price of $189.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so...how many limited units are there? Am I getting 1 out of 100 or am I getting 1 of 100,000? I want to know because I actually ordered 2. One to use and one to keep as a collector's item (hoping that someday it will be a valuable collectible as the first touch gaming system).

Novint said...

re: the number of pre-order units

There will only be 5,000 limited-edition preorder units available for purchase until June 18th.

Anonymous said...

Great! One of 5,000. Thanks. Maybe I should get a couple more.

Anonymous said...

When are these going to be available outside the US?

Anonymous said...

How sensitive will the touch sensation be? Will I be able to feel the following items:

- the edge of a dime on the floor?
- the ridges on that dime's edge?
- the hair of a pet and if so will it be the individual hairs or just a sensation of softness?
- the gravelly surface of a road?
- the point of a knife? or the sharp edge?
- the buttons on a phone?
- a person's face?
- could you sense a knife pushing through flesh?

Just wondering overall what the scale of the touch sensation is...thanks. I need to get my hands on one!!

Anonymous said...

Can I suggest that in one of your blog updates that you exclusively address the subject of the sensation experience of the Falcon. I've read the various references to it on your website and in press releases. But I think the subject needs to be as thoroughly addressed as you have on games. TIA

Anonymous said...

How many of the 5,000 pre-order units have been sold thus far?

Anonymous said...

When can I buy one in CANADA?

Anonymous said...

Most people I introduce to the Falcon have never heard of it before. In fact, I have been "digging it" repeatedly on the digg.com site but to no avail. Very few people are interested. What are you going to do to build brand awareness and get people hot about this product? There have been suggestions on this blog from others but nothing from Novint. What gives?

Novint said...

re: How sensitive will the touch sensation be?

A great deal of what you are asking refers to human perception as much as device fidelity. For example, in movies, foley artists create sounds that are exaggerated such as the sound of a punch, but which sound real to the viewers. Computer graphics use many tricks that are similar in nature. Haptics in computing (haptics refers to our sense of touch) does as well. That being said, the Novint Falcon is very high in resolution - it has sub millimeter resolution.

For instance, we have demos today that allow you to feel something as fine as sandpaper, or perform medical procedures. The Falcon is a true high-fidelity controller that, like the commercial haptic devices that cost thousands of dollars, enables users to experience a very realistic and fine sense of touch.

Will you be able to feel the following items: - the edge of a dime on the floor?

yes

- the ridges on that dime's edge?

yes

- the hair of a pet and if so will it be the individual hairs or just a sensation of softness?

with hair, you would most likely simulate the sensation of moving through many hairs, which has its own distinct feeling. Tying that in with good graphics and context can be compelling.

- the gravelly surface of a road?

yes

- the point of a knife? or the sharp edge?

both of these might be finer than the Novint Falcon's resolution specifically, but you have to consider what you are touching the knife edge with. For example, if you were to hold an apple and touch it against a knife, we can simulate that sensation whether it is cutting into the apple, or sliding across the surface.

- the buttons on a phone?

yes, including their clicks and springs

- a person's face?

yes, including both the squishiness of the face and the friction and smoothness across the skin

- could you sense a knife pushing through flesh?

yes, for example we have simulated a needle pushing into tissue for medical simulations, and have gotten strong reviews from surgeons. We could also simulate other medical instruments, such as a scalpel, for example.

Overall, it is very realistic. The surgical example is a good one. We can create a sense of touch that surgeons say feels like real the real life medical procedure we are simulating. Now, given the low cost of the Novint Falcon, we can bring that level of reality to consumer applications like gaming.

Novint said...

re: "A few thoughts"

-On the Falcon's color...

We have started to look into skins for the Falcon, and there will be other form factors and color schemes of the Falcon in the future.

-On providing mouse support...

If we see demand for mouse support we can implement it, but right now that work is being prioritized against finishing all of the games we are working on.

-On ergonomics...

Some folks report that in long sessions (5 hours of constant use), they've found the Falcon less tiring and more comfortable than the same amount of time with the mouse.

-On "turning off" force feedback...

In terms of having force feedback all the time, I have found that concept to be true with Force Feedback joysticks myself (as the low fidelity force feedback is secondary, and not critical to the gameplay), but I don't think people will find that concept to be true with the Falcon. If there are specific situations where someone would not want force feedback (such as a pvp fps game against someone not using a Falcon, where they would want to minimize weapon kick), we expect to be able to allow control of the forces in those types of situations.

-On the size of the Falcon...

The Falcon is on the big side, as we want to make sure that there is enough of a workspace to play the games in the best way. In the future we expect to make the size smaller while maintaining that same workspace, but ultimately you don't want to have the workspace much smaller. It is a concept similar to TV's - smaller isn't usually better. Even as is now, however, it takes up about the same amount of space on a desk as a mousepad.

-On grips...

As far as multiple handles, there should not be a need to ever buy more than one handle to play games, if any users are not excited about them, but we expect there will be situations where add-on handles can add to the game play (a steering wheel handle for the driving game, for example)

Novint said...

re: larger screenshots of games

Earlier, someone mentioned the desire to see our game screenshots in greater detail.

We will be announcing the details of Newton's Monkey Business at GDC (March 5th), and will have more descriptions, videos, and full screenshots available then.

Novint said...

re: how many pre-orders?

Novint is not releasing sales numbers publicly. We can say that we envision the potential to sell out before launch (especially as we get closer to launch), as we announce more of our game and content plans (which we are excited about), and as more reviews come out.

Additionally, we believe the demand could increase significantly by word of mouth as people start receiving their Falcons after launch, and if we are able to get units in stores for people to try. It is possible that demand could exceed our ability to produce the Novint Falcon, so pre-ordering is the best way to ensure you can get one. This also helps us to get a better feel for demand for the Falcon, in order to match demand with our production volume.

Novint said...

re: selling in Canada

Please see the comment above on selling overseas. It applies in this case as well.

Thanks for your patience.