Name: TruGamerz

Location: Germantown

Funding: The University of Maryland's Technology Development Corp. awarded the company $9,000. TruGamerz also won $2,500 in a business plan competition sponsored by the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Who's in charge: Curtis Harris, president and chief executive; Dan Lounsbury, acting director; Scott Laughlin, director.

Big idea: To help console gamers express themselves through their controllers while alleviating those stat-lowering sweaty palms. "We set out to design, manufacture and market ergonomically designed, customized video-game accessories," Harris said. The company has developed two products: the ThumbMaster, a gel-like thumb-support device that attaches to the joysticks on a controller, and the TruGamerz Cushioned Control cover, a washable pseudo-suede jacket that slides onto the handles of a controller. Both products fit controllers for the Xbox, PlayStation and GameCube.

How it works: The cushioned controller glove prevents game pads from becoming sweaty and slippery. "We have black now but intend to do multiple color lines along with potential personalization like initials," Harris said. The ThumbMaster, which will debut this winter, is designed to provide greater comfort and increased control for gamers as well as a secure platform for the thumb, Harris said. It also can alleviate the calluses, blisters and carpal-tunnel-like symptoms that develop from heavy controller use.

Where the idea was hatched: After hours and hours of gaming.

Big-name customer: The company has sold about 1,000 cushioned controllers through

Price: The cushioned controllers cost $14.95 for a package of two. The ThumbMasters are to cost $9.95 for two gel pads.

Founded: 2002

Employees: Five.

Web site:

What the name means: It "reflects our team of professionals as well as our target audience," Harris said. "Our products are designed by gamers for gamers."

Where will they be in five years? "With the gaming community growing at such a tremendous rate, I think we'll broaden our product lines," Harris said. "We're testing everything from light guns to sound enhancing products."

-- Andrea Caumont

Covers for video controllers can help prevent game pads from becoming sweaty and slippery.