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Some Navy submarines are using Xbox 360 controllers instead of periscopes

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Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 13:29:56-04

The Navy’s newest, most high-tech nuclear submarines use at least one piece of technology that millions of children use every day — a video game controller.

According to The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, the Navy is replacing traditional periscopes on its Virginia-class nuclear submarines with high resolution cameras that will be controlled with Xbox 360 controllers.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the cameras were originally designed to be controlled with a “helicopter-style” joystick. That design was quickly dropped after officials got feedback from a group of Navy junior officers.

Lt. j.g. Kyle Leonard, the assistant weapons officer on the USS John Warner — one of the Virginia-class submarines based in Norfolk — told the Virginian-Pilot that many sailors found the joystick clunky to hold and hard to use.

The solution? Integrate a tool that nearly every American kid uses on a daily basis.

According to WRC-TV, the controllers are more than just functional. The Xbox controllers will set the Navy back about $30 apiece, while the old system cost nearly $40,000.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.