iControlPad 2, the Open Source Controller


We have open source games, and we even have open source consoles, but this is surely a first: an open source controller.

iControlPad 2

The iControlPad 2 is, as the name would imply, the successor of the original iControlPad; a Bluetooth game controller for mobile devices. While the iControlPad itself was very popular with gamers and enjoyed fairly comprehensive software support, the team behind it thought there was even more they could do to improve the state of mobile gaming.

Hardware wise, the iControlPad 2 is about as large as the iPhone 4, and packs in two analog sticks, a full QWERTY keyboard, and the traditional face and shoulder buttons. There’s really nothing else on the market that comes close to the iControlPad 2 in terms of input, so it more or less wins on the hardware front by default.

The key feature of the new iControlPad 2 is that the hardware and software are completely open, which means the device will be able to adapt to new games, mobile devices, and functions as time goes on. The iControlPad 2 is not just limited to gaming either, as its fully programmable software and openly documented internal construction means it would be an ideal candidate for all sorts of electronic projects and hacks, like home automation and robotics.

If the device you want to talk to has Bluetooth, the iControlPad 2 can almost certainly be made to work with it. As a matter of fact, you could even forgo the Bluetooth and connect to it directly over USB: it exposes all the same functionality over USB as it does Bluetooth.

Software Support

As the primary function of the iControlPad 2 (at least, for the average consumer) will be a game controller, the natural first question is: “Which games support it”?

Cleverly, the iControlPad 2 will be able to work with essentially all Android and iOS games by virtue of its virtual touch screen software. Basically, you’ll be able to assign stick movements and button presses to virtual “touches” on the screen. So even games which have no option for physical controls could be made to work with the iControlPad 2 through preset configurations of button to touch mappings.

We’ve already seen applications that can do this released for Android, but bundling it with the hardware and (presumably) working on a repository of touch mappings for popular games could turn what was once an activity for only the avid tweaker into a mass-market product.

Support on Kickstarter

[one_half last=”no”]As is quickly becoming the norm in consumer electronics, the iControlPad 2 is currently up on Kickstarter asking for your support to start shipping out finished units by the holidays. The team says the hardware is very close to mass market production, and only a few lose ends (such as final button layout) need to be worked out before hardware can start rolling off the line.

Getting your hands on an iControlPad 2 will set you back a $70 donation on Kickstarter, which is hardly cheap for a game controller, but it’s also the worlds only fully open source controller, so you have to cut it a little slack. Bumping up your pledge will net you a special edition iControlPad 2 complete with wooden box and signed letter from the development team: the perfect holiday gift for the mobile gamer in your life.[/one_half]

About Tom Nardi

Tom is a Network Engineer with focus on GNU/Linux and open source software. He is a frequent submitter to "2600", and maintains a personal site of his projects and areas of research at: www.digifail.com .