Of all the 7th generation consoles that have been launched into the market, the Nintendo Wii was considered the most revolutionary. Although the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3) boasted superior graphical performance, the Nintendo’s newest system managed to gain market share by appealing to an untouched demographic of players with its much-envied-motion-sensing controls. This motion-sensing feature also became the “highlight” of some Nintendo game titles, most notably the system-bundled Wii Sports. Once the initial hype surrounding the Wii had worn off and competitors latched on the idea, everyone looked to Microsoft and Sony to see what they had up their sleeves.
Microsoft played their hand first and unveiled a motion-sensing add-on for the Xbox, codenamed “Project Natal”, the device aims to provide a “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience” for the Xbox 360 users, through a variety of interactive gestures and voice commands. Microsoft’s Project Natal was one of the main attractions at E3 2009. Several titles were shown to have utilized Natal for standard input to get amazing results. Some of the impressive features of Natal are its ability to employ gesture, facial, and voice recognition technologies for input purposes and to recognize input commands even in relatively low-light conditions. Games like Fable 3, Burnout Paradise, and Ben 10 Fire will be a great fun to play on these motion-sensing gaming consoles.
The Natal sensor makes use of an integrated infrared light source and a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chip to perceive depth and “see” the surrounding environment in three-dimensions (3D). The depth sensor automatically calibrates itself and can record the body movements of up to 4 individuals simultaneously with great accuracy. The sensor’s hardware is based on a 3D-sensing and technology developed by PrimeSense, and the software is Microsoft’s. While the software implementation will consume 10 to 15% of the Xbox 360’s computing resources.
Taking a page out of Nintendo’s book, PlayStation’s wand-like secondary navigation controller resembled the Wii Remote controller and even had a Wii Nunchuck-like secondary navigation controller that could be paired with the want.
The new controller – dubbed the PlayStation move – is designed to work in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye camera, to transpose real-life actions to the screen. Affixed atop the motion controller is a light-emitting diode (LED) orb that can glow in a range of colors to serve as an active marker. The position of the colored light can be tracked by the PlayStation Eye camera. Inside the controller is a pair of internal sensors, a linear accelerometer, angular rate sensor and a magnetometer in order to transmit realistic motion. The controller features the vibration-based haptic technology to provide force feedback, while the orb light provides visual feedback, such as firing a gun or painting with a brush.
One can safely assume, from the promotional efforts initiated by these trendsetting companies, that motion-controlled gaming is indeed the next big thing. Microsoft and Sony seem to have realized the benefits of motion technology in the wake of Nintendo’s dominating success.
As the increasing competition accentuate the revolutionary technology with their own creative mix to keep gamers excited and to push industry standards to broader horizons, the excitement is certainly justified.
Considered a sign of things to come, motion and gesture based input could quite possible revolutionize the entertainment industry as a whole, with potential spill-over into the general computing industry.
This is a guest post by Sohail Qaisar. He is a professional writer and editor from GamesHT.com, he also contribute some useful articles on different software training, you can send him email on: [email protected]