One of the caveats to having an onscreen joystick on your smartphone is that it usually blocks up a good portion of the screen. While it’s not much of a problem on a tablet, on smaller devices such as the 3.5″ iPhone, it can be quite frustrating not being able to see some parts of the action while playing. Well, a research group at Keio University has managed to come up with a solution to the problem. Called a 3-Axis analog joystick, it is an elastic device that is placed over the front facing camera of your smartphone.

The elastic device features small markers that can be tracked by the camera, and by tracking these markers, the phone can register their movements as input for the games. Using this will let players have a physical joystick (better than a virtual onscreen one) and not have to block the display at the same time. And users also don’t have to worry about having to smudge their screen with their dirty/oily thumbs. The joystick can also be placed onto the phone’s rear camera to function in the same way, expect that the player will be controlling it from the other way instead.

Quite a cool concept that I’d like to see being used one day, though it’ll definitely require support from game developers if it were to be successful. Check out a video demonstration of it above.

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