Back in the 1980s, technologists were loved-up with virtual reality and Nintendo's Power Glove (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYBzKFm-rd0) was an attempt to bring some of VR's multi-million dollar futurism into the living room.
The 1989 Power Glove was based on VPL's DataGlove technology. It could detect 3D movement (such as pitch, yaw, roll) and whether the fingers of the glove were being flexed.
With the addition of NES controller buttons, Nintendo had a revolutionary gaming controller on its hands.
Unfortunately, the Power Glove was criticised for its imprecise controls and only two games (Super Glove Ball and Bad Street Brawler) were ever released for it. 17 years on and Nintendo returned to the 3D idea for the Wii's control system.
The Sega Dreamcast Fishing Rod
Some games inspire the development of controllers that just can't be used for anything else. Take Sega's relaxing Dreamcast title, Get Bass, aka Bass Fishing (US).
To truly play this fish-sim properly you needed to invest in the Fishing Rod controller.
Cast your lure into the superbly rendered lake environment and then wait... wait for it... and... wait. Force-feedback technology built into the plastic rod would tell you when you had a bite.
But hooking a bass was just the start of a strategic tug-of-war as you tried to land the struggling fish without snapping the line or snagging it on underwater obstacles.
The Novint Falcon 3D controller
Novint makes a bold claim for its Falcon controller, saying that its technology "transforms the user experience by adding realistic interactive 3D touch to computing".
While it looks like the accidental offspring of a satellite speaker and an angle-poise lamp, think of the Falcon as a 3D mouse. It can move up and down, forwards and backwards just like a traditional mouse. But the Falcon can also move up and down.
At the same time, small motors in the controller provide haptic feedback giving you a sense of texture and shape. Watch the demo online.
More than simply a webcam, Sony's EyeToy http://www.eyetoy.com/ stands out from the crowd because it almost abandons the idea of a controller altogether.
Instead, the player is the controller. In its debut game, EyeToy Play, players could interact with onscreen objects in a series of party games – punching invading ninja warriors, heading a football or copying dance moves.
EyeToy's genius is its simplicity and, while the collision detection is often poor, the easy interactivity arguably makes up for it. Despite its undoubted success, the EyeToy camera's popularity has been hit hard by the decline of the PlayStation 2 platform and the arrival of the Nintendo Wii.
Made by the company that manufacturers RailDriver (the only desktop train cab controller, don't you know), ShipDriver includes an interchangeable tiller, a ship's wheel, and a modern steering wheel to let you match rudder control to your virtual boat.
Of course, that means you need some virtual boat software to go with it. Look out for Ship Simulator 2006 coming to a store near you soon.