Force feedback has been a part of game controllers for some time now. Thermoelectrics could be next. Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a controller that uses thermoelectric surfaces to express changes in temperature. According to a blog post on MIT's Technology Review site, the surfaces take about five minutes to move the mercury less than ten degrees in either direction. That's reportedly enough of a "sensory nudge" to be convincing, as users respond to changes in temperature within a few seconds.
Japan's National Institute of Special Needs Education collaborated on the development of this temperature-feedback tech, hoping that it could help the blind. I suspect there will be some interest from gamers, as well. In addition to communicating the temperature of a given scene's environment, a controller laced with thermoelectric surfaces could provide feedback for charging power-ups, overheating engines and weapons, even the player's health. And who wouldn't want a self-cooling controller on a hot summer day?