Few people know this, but 80% of game controllers use at least one ALPS component, like their directional joystick controller. The Haptic Reactor is a force-feedback vibration device that just got upgraded and demonstrated at CEATEC 2018.
The ALPS Haptic Reactor, officially called HAPTIC Reactor Hybrid Tough Type, previously existed with two resonance points, which mean that it vibrates in two directions. The new version called Haptic Reactor Quadra now comes with four resonance points, and it will effectively allow the next-generation controllers to reproduce/simulate force feedback more accurately.
In their booth, ALPS had a cool demo in which we could hold a couple of metal sticks fitted with the new Haptic Reactor. The metal apparatus you see in the photo will let metallic balls roll into the metal frame, and the Haptic Reactor would replay all the vibrations in real-time (it can vibrate/react in ~1ms). It felt strangely real and in-sync.
ALPS explained that Quadra would enable a more realistic tactile feel. Although today’s controllers are quite good, their precision is not high enough to produce more subtle types of feedback. That’s particularly important for VR applications where users are supposed to push or hold things of varying weight and texture. The new model will do this much better. You can think of it has a monitor having a higher resolution but applied to vibration force-feedback.
ALPS can’t talk about who buys its hardware, but I’m pretty sure that they were the company powering the Nintendo vibrating controllers, so this is not their first Rodeo. Next time you hear about more realistic force-feedback game controllers from OEMs, you will know where the technology came from.