Review: <i>USB missile launcher</i>

READY, AIM... This USB missile launcher will bring shock and awe to any workplace.
READY, AIM... This USB missile launcher will bring shock and awe to any workplace.

The USB Missile Launcher ($60) lets you take office warfare to a whole new level.

The USB-controlled missile launch system is 16 centimetres high and features three foam missiles complete with stability fins.

The supplied Windows software lets you rotate the launch platform up to 180 degrees and tilt back up to 45 degrees before hitting the big red fire button, which is accompanied by a cool sound effect. The spring-loaded launcher has a range of about three metres, which is far enough to take out hostile targets a couple of desks away.

The launcher has a heavy base, allowing it to withstand a counterattack and remain standing. Ofcourse, you've only got three chances to hit your target, although you can buy a three-pack of extra missiles for about $10. 

The 75mm missiles have the consistency of flakes of packing foam, making them heavy enough to fly straight and true thanks to the red stabilising fins. You're unlikely to do any serious damage unless you hit someone in the eye at point-blank range.

The launcher requires three AA batteries and has an on/off switch in the base.

The supplied software is very basic and doesn't keep track of the launch platform's movements, so you can't easily go back to a previous target. A gadget like this is crying out to be modified and some bright people have rewritten the software to add features such as tracking the launch platform's position and adding joystick compatibility.

Fans have also written Mac and Linux versions of the controller software.

If your budget stretches further, the webcam Missile Launcher lets you acquire targets using the built-in webcam and even lets friends control your launcher over the web via MSN Messenger.

The webcam Missile Launcher doubles your attack range by using compressed air rather than springs to fire the missiles.


Sydney Morning Herald