USS Colorado submarine periscopes driven by Xbox controller

Some people fear the influence of video games on the youth, and the US Navy might have just proven them right. In a slightly amusing way. Over the weekend, the new USS Colorado SSN 788 was commissioned, hailed to not just to be the newest fast attack sub of the country but also a marvel of technology and innovation. Part of that innovation comes via the use of one of the most familiar methods of control to operate the sub's new Photonics Masts: a wired Xbox 360 controller.

Don't worry, the entire attack submarine isn't driven by a game controller. Or any of its critical systems. The Xbox controllers are simply there for operating the two new photonic masts, the submarine's non-penetrating digital camera periscopes. These replace traditional periscopes and hold both a visible camera as well as an infrared digital camera on top of telescoping arms.

Controlling those periscopes aren't as easy as war and spy films suggest them to be. They got so frustrating that the Navy conducted research and surveys on the best control device possible. They ended up with one that was not only familiar but also cheap.

Many of the sailors who will be living in the USS Colorado will have grown up with gaming consoles, especially an Xbox. They'll be familiar enough with the controls that it might feel almost second nature to them. Plus, the Navy can use off the shelf Xbox 360 controllers with very little to no modification. That is, at least until Microsoft stops selling them. But then there'd be plenty of compatible third-party versions available.