(reposted from the other blog, as it's mutually-relevant)
Being right about something in the realm of technology-speculation happens to me so rarely I'm actually a little scared when it looks like it might... happen, I mean. So right now... I'm actually a little alarmed...
Awhile back, when we first got word that Nintendo's yet-unamed, supposedly E3-bound Wii successor was going to have an iPad-esque touchscreen incorporated into it's controller, I was struck by a crazy notion: What if the touchscreen IS the controller - as in, the WHOLE controller?
The "big idea," as I imagined it, was that instead of having one controller with a pre-set arrangement of buttons that each game needed to be mapped to, it'd just be a blank touchscreen upon which each individual game would generate it's own specific, tailor-made set of "virtual buttons." Think about it: A six-button arcade setup for Street Fighter, SNES-style setup for platformers or retrogames, etc.
One HUGE problem with that idea: "Virtual buttons" SUCK, and for a very specific reason: You can't feel them. There's no texture, no tacticle-resistance, no "feedback." At least, not on any of the virtual-buttons we've used so far...
Check out this story from The Escapist, which details some new Wii2 rumors including a Swedish site's report that the controller's touchscreen - whatever else it is - is utilizing a form of HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY, which basically means "artificial feedback." Haptic Touchscreens, something Apple and Toshiba have been experimenting with and/or demonstrating, use an electrically-charged "film" on the screen surface to make different areas of the display "feel" noticeably different to the user's fingertips. The practical application is obvious: You can make the "clickable" parts of a website, options-menu or even a virtual keypad feel distinguishable to the touch. Theoretically, that could ELIMINATE the one drawback to virtual-button game-controls.
Now, realistically, it'd probably still have physical analogue sticks and shoulder-buttons, but otherwise... yeah, until proven wrong (which is probably what'll happen) I'm stickin' with this insane theory: Wii2's controller, to some degree, will be built around virtual-buttons on a touchscreen, and that aspect - "one controller that becomes ALL CONTROLLERS!" - will be central to the marketing.