Design Engineering

Up your game with Bendtroller, the flexible game controller



Bendtroller offers a new way to play games more physically than button mashing.

Find yourself mimicking the movements and actions of your video game in real life? Researchers at Carleton University’s Creative Interactions Lab have designed a new game controller that enables the user to guide in-game actions by bending and twisting the device.

carleton flexible game bendtroller

Photo credit: Carleton University’s Creative Interactions Lab

Dubbed Bendtroller, this flexible controller enables players to have a tactile experience well beyond traditional options.

“Bendtroller offers a new way to play games more physically than button mashing,” says Audrey Girouard, associate professor in the School of Information Technology, and head of the lab.

In order to ensure the device is responsive, the Bendtroller features bend sensors to detect two bending actions and two twisting actions. It also has buttons for navigation and other actions.


Researchers say the controller could work with a number of games on the market currently. Although they do note that the functionality is limited to discrete actions like throwing an option or continuous motions like accelerating in a racing game.

“I think it’s important to introduce new methods of input into the gaming industry in order to keep it fresh and interesting,’’ says Bendtroller developer Paden Shorey, a graduate of Carleton’s Master of Human-Computer Interaction Program. “Gaming isn’t only about software these days. Bending and twisting are actions we perform every day with other objects and tools, so it should be a natural transition when they are used to play video games.”

With the rise of popular gaming consoles like Nintendo Wii and the Switch, Girouard believes that players are ready and eager to adopt new and innovative controllers.

“Bendtroller lets the player move the controller similarly to how they would move in real life, like twisting it to throw a punch,” Girouard adds. “That’s really exciting and intriguing!”

The research for BendTroller was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


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