With Stadia expected to launch sometime next month, Google in recent weeks has been ramping up the game streaming service’s press tour. The latest provides a look at the user research and design of the Stadia Controller.

Popular Science spoke to Google about what went into designing Stadia’s only piece of consumer hardware. For starters, Google rejects observations by some that the first-party accessory is just a mismatch of the Xbox Wireless Controller and PlayStaton DualShock 4.

According to Google design director Isabelle Olsson, the development process saw Google film 6,000 hours of gameplay to “observe how people were holding different controllers.”

Another step involved letting test subjects play with clay to mold their desired grips, as well as letting them place thumbsticks on a mock device. Other considerations include the “angle of the protruding hand grip” and curvature.

via Popular Science

In all, Google says it made hundreds of prototypes, with the ones shown off today sticking to mirror placement for the joysticks, as well as D-Pad and A/B/X/Y.

There was some differentiation in where to put the Stadia button, with one prototype [row 6, column 7] positioning it at the top, just like Xbox. Others [row 6, columns 2-3] laid the Assistant, screen capture, overflow, and menu buttons in a row before Google arrived at the nesting, face-esque appearance today. A number of color options were also trialed, specifically the thumbstick and underneath accent.

The Stadia Controller is unique for directly connecting over Wi-Fi to a server instance in the cloud. This results in the lowest-latency experience possible. Charging over USB-C, there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack, though Bluetooth audio is coming in a post-launch update. It costs $69 standalone and can also be purchased as part of the Founder’s or Premiere Edition.

The full Popular Science piece has more early design images of the Stadia Controller.

Update 11/6: IGN has another look at what went into the Stadia Controller. Olsson again sets out how Google’s design brief was to “make the most comfortable controller ever,” while sticking to three tenets: a “human” look and feel, playful or quirky “optimism,” and daring. Like the video showed at Made by Google 2019, the company sees the controller as a tool.

Another goal was to make sure the design came off as “uniquely Google,” with a handful of new prototypes and different colorways shown off today. There’s also an exploded view of the internals. Other design decisions include using dark black on all buttons “for wear and tear,” while focussing the “color pop” underneath the thumbsticks so it’s “protected.”

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Abner Li

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