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The Cheap Gaming Controller Involved With The Missing Titanic Explorers

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A submersible containing five passengers went missing on Sunday after diving down towards the famed wreckage of the Titanic. The dive was overseen by OceanGate Expeditions and accomodates one pilot and four paying civilians serving as "mission specialists." This latest dive was part of an ongoing survey of the Titanic, with the goal being to "fully document and model the wreck site" before it completely decays, according to OceanGate's official website. The missing submersible, which is named Titan, also contains a gaming controller that has become an unexpected source of controversy.

The United States Coast Guard reported on Twitter that the submersible lost contact with the surface less than two hours into its dive on Sunday. The clock is ticking, as the craft only has an air supply of approximately four days. Presuming Titan is still intact, search and rescue teams have until Thursday afternoon to find and retrieve its occupants.

Since news broke regarding the sub's disappearance, reports have resurfaced regarding the vessel's construction, which many have deemed as suspect at best. As noted in a 2022 report from CBS' David Pogue, "I couldn't help noticing how many pieces of this sub seemed improvised, with off-the-shelf components." And in fact, the submersible is piloted using a retrofitted video game controller. As briefly seen in Pogue's original coverage of Titan, the reporter's head bobs in disbelief upon the controller's reveal.

Pogue's own dive did not result in tragedy, as his expedition only made it 37 feet below sea level before "floats came off the platform" and the dive was called off. However, it seems he was right to think the gaming controller was an odd choice for a navigation tool. Gamers on social media have since identified the controller and discovered that it's not exactly the most advanced model out there.

The Titan sub is controlled by a Logitech gamepad

If you were wondering why #Logitech was trending on Twitter over the last several hours, it's because the Titan submersible is actually steered using a Logitech G F710 Wireless Gamepad. This fact quickly spread like wildfire on social media, with gamers expressing their disbelief that a relatively inexpensive controller — one originally released during the PlayStation 3 era, no less — was deemed worthy of running such a delicate operation.

According to multiple product reviews, this controller model has issues with stiff joysticks and maintaining a steady wireless connection. One Amazon review complains, "I immediately noticed that the dead zones for the analog sticks were horrible, making precise movements extremely difficult." Another notes, "The sad conclusion is that this controller was not worth the $40 I spent." Needless to say, this has done very little to instill confidence in the safe return of the vessel and its five-person crew.

Some gamers online have resorted to making memes out of the event (of course), while others are just too gobsmacked to do anything other than ask "Why?" Others are waiting with bated breath to see if Logitech has anything to say about these upsetting events, which will no doubt result in some less-than-stellar publicity. As of this writing, the tech company has not yet issued a statement regarding Titan's use of its products. 

Red flags raised over SeaGate's Titan expeditions

Of course, the use of a gaming controller hasn't been the only red flag raised by OceanGate's expeditions. As reported by CBS and the BBC, the sub's construction and use has "not been approved by any regulatory body," and prospective passengers must sign extensive waivers acknowledging that such an expedition could result in injury or death. Mike Reiss, a former passenger of Titan, told the BBC, "It's remarkable how basic and simple the whole operation is." Reiss further described his expedition as being extremely hard to navigate in the deep dark of the ocean. 

These factors and more make the search for Titan difficult for rescue services. CNN reports that the depths to which Titan may have sunk — up to 13,000 feet below sea level, where the Titanic itself is located — means the area of the search may be too wide to navigate in the amount of time afforded to rescuers. Additionally, choppy waters and unpredictable weather patterns may serve to further complicate the search. 

The Coast Guard has not given up hope yet, however, and will continue its rescue efforts as OceanGate works to contact Titan. In a statement provided to NewsNation, OceanGate Expeditions said, "Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible."

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