U.S. submarines will use Xbox 360 controllers to operate their periscopes

Image US Navy  Lockheed Martin

The Virginia-class USS Colorado will have its periscopes controlled by Xbox 360 controllers. Periscope viewing is now performed via high-resolution cameras that relay their video to big-screen displays. In surveys, younger officers said they disliked current scope controls and found them to be clunky to operate.

While most people associate Xbox 360 with a group of teenagers drinking Mountain Dew as they play one another late into the night, it turns out the U.S. Navy is now opting for the popular gaming device. But the joystick has not been a crew favorite.

"The Navy got together and they asked a bunch of J.O.s (junior officers) and junior guys, 'What can we do to make your life better?' " said Lt. Kyle Leonard of the USS John Warner.

A photonics mast as seen above a submarine.

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Interestingly enough when the Xbox controller was tested as a potential replacement, sailors were able to figure out the controls within a few minutes, that and given that each Xbox controller costs considerably less than Lockheed Martin's setup, this should save the US Navy money when it comes to replacements or repairs.

Lockheed Martin's sticks set the Navy back $38,000 a pop. GameStop sells used Xbox 360 controllers for under $30, while Microsoft sells new 360 pads for $39.99.

After extensive testing, the controller-based system will make its debut with the USS Colorado, meant to be commissioned by November 2017. Eichenlaub believes it will only be the beginning. "They want to bring in sailors with what they have at home on their personal laptop, their personal desktop, what they grew up with in a classroom".

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