Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Kieran Mackintosh0
Game in Scotland – Nuvo Gadgets
This is part one of a four-part series of articles, which branch from my overview report of my and my colleague Martin’s time at Game in Scotland. This series’ purpose is to detail the different interviews we did. In this part, I detail our interview with Nuvo Gadgets.
On Saturday (March 9th), my colleague Martin and I went together to do press coverage at Game in Scotland, an annual Scottish event where established local video game developers present and pitch themselves to the public. We interviewed four developers, all from different industry professions, perspectives and disciplines. We made impressions, shook hands and even had a laugh too.
One of those aforementioned interviews was with Nuvo Gadgets, a stall me and Martin pretty much chose randomly.
Nuvo Gadgets are an up-and-coming product developer, who came about out of a passion for gadgets, and a desire to bring new and innovative products to those who would appreciate them. Their criteria? They add products to their catalogue and sell said products only if they are fun to use, which is the central theme of any and all products they want to produce. This motif is even reflected in their catchphrase, too: “bringing back fun“. A cute sentiment, and so far with their latest and first product – the Nuvo Pro Game Grip – Nuvo Gadgets seem to certainly be delivering on their promise. Which, humorously, was sparked because an employee’s phone stopped working.
Nuvo Gadgets attended Game in Scotland in order to get known to the public. Hassan Ahmed (Nuvo’s Promotions Manager) took a moment of time (twice*) to talk to us about the Game Grip.
Basically, the Nuvo Game Grip is an “extension for the iPhone 4/4S, and also the iPod 4th generation.” What you do is unclip the Grip’s opening and slot in your iDevice, close the opening, and that’s it ready for use on the get-go. It’s honestly that simply, if a bit fiddly at first. No additional software is required to run the Grip; nothing needs to be installed to your device in order for the Grip to work. It is quite simply a peripheral that attaches to your device, which in turn enhances the mobile gaming experience.
Ahmed talked us through the different features of the Grip and how some of them worked. The Nuvo Pro Game Grip has two speakers directly behind the device, as well as an built-in vibration function. Music and other media can be played through the gadget, I was told. It also has it’s own battery life, which is represented by four small LED lights on the back. Additionally, it comes with four suction buttons – which I assume are to increase the player’s gaming experience.
Another feature – one which I find particularly interesting – is that the Grip can charge your iDevice whilst you’re on the move. It also has a mini-USB port to boot (a mini-USB cable is included in the box), as well as additions such as a headphone jack and volume controls.
The Grip is designed with user comfort in mind, because the overall shape of the gadget is rounded and ergonomic, being just the right dimensions to fit comfortably into one’s hands. It’s also quite lightweight, too, if a little too light for my preference.
Currently, the device itself only has one colour – matte red. When asked if they were planning for different colours, Ahmed said that when they head back to their drawing room they will look over what reviews they’ve received (as well as public feedback), and work on that feedback and bring different things to the public. I hope this might include different colours. Y’know, just for spice of choice.
Martin asked if the company had anything else going for it. Ahmed replied with that they do have different ideas, but they wanted to develop the idea of the Nuvo Pro Game Grip first, get it out and get it known to the public – as well as Nuvo Gagdets in the process – and then maybe bring out other products. The Grip is the only product Nuvo currently have on the market at the time of writing, but there’s an iPhone 5 version peaking over the horizon – the Nuvo Pro Game Grip Evolution.
Afterwards, I asked if one of those ideas would be the development of a tablet version. He responded with that during their development research, they found that Apple had the most mobile games on their devices, and since the iPhone 4/4S was the product of the time, Nuvo made the decision of developing the idea of the Grip around those iDevices. However, since Apple bring out a new iThingie every so often, and how Samsung (as an example) have their own Android phones, he said they will develop for other devices – iOS and Android alike – in the future. They even hope to incorporate different sizes of different devices, too: from smartphone sizes to tablet sizes, maybe. (My thoughts on that later). In short, they want to develop for smartphones, and then possibly branch out later.
Now, let me talk about what I think about the gadget itself. Because the iDevice is linked to the Grip via a built-in plug (much like any iDevice adapter) through the device’s socket, the two items virtually become one, with the Grip itself being flush with the iDevice.
It’s also because of this connection that the gadget is able to charge your iDevice. I speculate this is because it transfers battery charge from its onboard battery to your device, which, in turn, drains the Grip’s own battery in favour of keeping the iDevice’s alive. I don’t know what would happen if the Grip’s battery ran out mid-game, or at any time at all. I think it would just “disconnect” itself, so features such as vibration, or using the Grip to play music, would simply cease, until the Grip is charged again by connecting it to a PC via mini-USB, or by plugging it into your iDevice’s adapter. There isn’t a plug adapter included with the Grip because it can charge from a regular iPhone 4/4S charger via the provided mini-USB cable, as was comfirmed by Nuvo when I contacted them after GiS. Perhaps Nuvo may bring their own one out as an accessory later down the line.
Additionally, the connection allows for functionalities such as the vibration function to work, as well as music to play through the device’s speakers, because it directly links to the innards of the device, logically speaking. I cannot speak for the vibration function, other than Ahmed’s word. I’m curious to know how the vibration function works, though, and how it would feel whilst gaming.
More practically, I’m curious how the Grip will know when to vibrate. My hypotheses were that the Grip vibrates for every game, interpreting electrical signals within the iDevice and extrapolating them into vibrations when appropriate, or that mobile game developers will have to incorporate this functionality into their games in order to advantage of this particular feature. As it turns out, I was right with the former; all the vibrations are calculated automatically, Nuvo comfirmed.
A couple more things before I wrap up. One of them being the four suction buttons. Inside the Grip’s package, amongst other things, are four buttons (which I assume are all re-attachable). These appendages tack onto your iDevice’s screen, and practically imitate something similar to a genuine console controller. I don’t know exactly how it works for sure, but, logically thinking, the buttons are essentially extensions of your fingers. When the the buttons exude pressure/heat onto the screen, the end result will be as similar as just using your fingers regularly, except with added tactile-ness of having the familiarity of using a regular console controller for increased accuracy and gameplay response. A simply, yet effective idea.
Lastly, possible future sizes. Honestly, my input to Nuvo would be to go no larger than a 7″ screen. Any bigger would just be too cumbersome, in my opinion. I image that, practically, a 7″ Game Grip would be the limit of the device in terms of practicality, portability and storage – because I think it would still be an acceptable size to game and travel with. A 10″ version, to me, would just be too large for either of those categories, and therefore not really function as a compact attachment anymore, and would just be unnecessary – because I think a 10″ is large enough to game without any sort of Grip gadget.
Nuvo, however, have reiterated that they aren’t making any commitments to any other versions, other than the iPhone 4/4S and 5. They’re currently just wanting concentrate on modern smartphones only. Even though they’re thinking of other ideas, I now know that it’s not probable that we’ll see any bigger versions in the near future.
Speaking with Hassan Ahmed was a charm. We enjoyed interviewing him on both occasions. Soon after the first interview, Martin went and bought his own at a reduced price – event-specific special offer. I’m jealous I don’t have my own, but I don’t have any of the required devices — as of yet. The Nuvo Pro Game Grip is an incredibly simple and innovative product, and seems to be quite a solid one at that. If you’re interested in buying your own, you may head on over to their site and (at the time of writing) buy it for 16.67% off. To watch a demo of the gadget, you may want to head on over to their YouTube channel.
I look forward in seeing where Nuvo Gadgets and their Game Grip go. I wish them the best, and I thank Hassan Ahmed for taking his time to speak to me and Martin. I hope to meet them again. Go check them out at nuvogadgets.com, and/or follow them on Twitter (@nuvogadgets).
This ends part one of a four-part series of articles, branching from my overview report my and my colleague Martin’s time at Game in Scotland. In part two, I detail our interview with Lost Zombie Studios. Stay tuned!
*We actually had to back to Nuvo because our recorded video footage was very poor in quality (an oversight on my part). I wanted to do video interviews, but my device was just not meant for that sort of job – setting was too dark, lights were too bright, video quality was poor, surrounding noise drowned the interview…you get the picture. We had to compromise with only audio recordings thereafter, using my device as a mic.