Most impressive demo ever: Sony 3D controller

Most impressive demo ever: Sony 3D controller

Summary: Warning: no Apple content follows.Following on the heels of Woz's review of Bing, comes one of the most impressive demos that I've ever seen – the new Sony 3D controller that was demoed at E3 in Las Vegas.

TOPICS: Hardware

Warning: no Apple content follows.

Following on the heels of Woz's review of Bing, comes one of the most impressive demos that I've ever seen – the new Sony 3D controller that was demoed at E3 in Las Vegas.

If you like the Nintendo Wii's 3D controller, you fall in love with the new Sony controller. It works with "sub millimeter" access and the controller itself has a cool glowing orb on its tip. The light-sabre whip and handwriting demos at E3 2009 are pretty impressive.The spraypaint demo reminds me of MacPaint circa 1984 and has the potential to revolutionize immersive gaming the way MacPaint revolutionized software UI.

How much does it threaten the Wii? How do you think that it stacks up against the new Project Natal 3D controller for Xbox?

Topic: Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Since you mentioned Project Natal

    I thought your readers could get a glimpse at what [b]real[/b] innovation looks like:

    They might not recognize it after being used to lapping up what Apple passes off as "innovation". :)
    • You know, Zealot...

      ... that's the way to stay on topic.

      BTW, Natal isn't Microsoft innovation. It's Microsoft buying a company
      for one product, just like a bunch of other Microsoft innovations as of
      • So buying a company spoils all future releases?

        nix_hed, let me introduce you to FingerWorks. Since Apple purchased it, you now have to admit that no one can [b]ever[/b] claim Apple innovated, or will ever innovate, anything related to multi-touch or gestures.
      • Well, it works . . .

        "BTW, Natal isn't Microsoft innovation. It's Microsoft buying a company for one product, just like a bunch of other Microsoft innovations as of late."


        Whether they truly invented it or took it from somebody they bought doesn't really matter. If people like it, they'll buy it.

        That's how Microsoft has always pretty much worked, and despite all the griping about it, it keeps Microsoft going.
      • get the facts before you spout off...

        Microsoft's in-house written software and engineers created the most important part - the software to interpret the data coming in from the hardware of which yes they did buy the camera company from Israel for one of the components.
      • Apple does the same thing

        Hate to break it to you, but Apple does the same thing. If there is a promising technology in a start-up, I hope that they will be acquired by a larger company. In the medical field, this is standard operating fare.
        Rob Oakes
        • What does Apple have to do with this discussion?

          I hate to break it to you. Are all you (and SuperZealot) about is ABA?
    • Impressive in a technical sense, but..

      ...I think ditching the controller is actually a [i]mistake[/i], rather than a benefit.

      The idea of a virtual environment is that it's supposed to be immersive. Removing the controller takes out a tactile portion of the experience.

      Which do you think is a more enjoyable experience?

      A) Two kids holding sticks, "jousting" with them like swords

      B) Two kids [i]imagining[/i] they're holding swords, [i]pretending[/i] to joust.

      The purely virtual experience is more technologically impressive, but I doubt it would be more fun.

      I think the software interface aspect is much more appealing. That [i]is[/i] like science fiction (despite the fact that the guy showcasing the demo says that science fiction writers haven't even thought of it).

      Mylo (Milo?) is certainly interesting, but even in that short demo, some of the AI was fairly predictable. And "splashing" in the pond brings up the same problem as the games -- the lack of tactility. The actress wasn't actually [i]feeling[/i] anything when she did that, and I can't believe that would be a satisfying experience.

      • Did you watch the whole thing?

        Don't worry, it was long, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.

        [i]Removing the controller takes out a tactile portion of the experience.[/i]

        I don't disagree. However, because this is all based on cameras, nothing at all prevents you from holding things like hockey sticks or baseball bats if you really wanted to. In one of the clips (the one with Milo), the girl draws something on a physical piece of paper and "hands" it to Milo. I didn't see anything in the demo that precluded the use of physical props.
        • Okay, I did see the paper..

          ...and maybe that's a good point. I was wondering about that. And watching the video again, I saw that the actress's image appeared in the water in real time, which was kind of cool. What I didn't see (which doesn't mean the system can't do it, of course) is substitution of items. The actress held up a piece of paper, and the computer mimicked it. The skateboarder had his board scanned into a game. But with the skater, you'll notice that the game [i]didn't[/i] actually use the [b]real[/b] skateboard. Instead, it created a virtual one in the game. That removes several elements (e.g., the possibility that you'll actually make a mistake, lose your balance (in a real way), etc). In other words, it takes some of the physicality out of the games that would be there if you were interacting with real objects. In fact, you could kind of tell that's the weak point in the system, from the kinds of games they demoed. With the exception of the rather odd racing game (for which a power tool controller might come in handy ;)), none of the games would really benefit from a controller the way more conventional games would (e.g., tennis like the Sony guys demonstrated).

          To be fair, I think both of the systems have severe limitations. Sony did demonstrate a first-person shooter interface, but how well would that work in such a paradigm? Once you shoot your way out of a room, what [i]then[/i]? How do you move from room to room when "you're the controller"? (I'm certainly not saying that these kinds of systems [i]must[/i] be able to do FPS to be successful, but I found it odd that Sony would demo such a thing, when there don't seem to be a lot of places they can go with it.

  • MotionPlus?

    Apparently you haven't seen MotionPlus in action. It does everything this does only without the camera needing to see a controller. Same problem with Natal. If someone walks in front of you it loses all tracking. Yes, it does break the IR beam on the WiiMote, but it does not impact the motion sensing of the console.
    • I think....

      Microsoft has the more advanced technology at this point. Seems you could incorporate alot of different things into it not just your body. Say a bat that comes with a baseball game. A football that comes with a game, or your own football for that matter. Sure not every game is perfect for interactiveness like the Wii and others, but Microsofts tehnology has the best ability to be diverse with low cost option add on's to games or your own devices you have in your house already.

      I think this is just the beginning of what you will see with this kind of technology. The others are good, but not as dynamic in possibilities.
  • Wow

    Trying really really hard to make it look like Monday never happened, eh? You have to be a pretty big Sony fanboy/ABMer to think Sony's little glowing plastic orb on a stick is more impressive than Project Natal.

    The potential that Project Natal offers is substantially more than what Sony's controller can ever hope to offer.
    • The "glowing plastic orb" is better suited to games.

      And these are both game consoles. Personally, both are amazing
      technology demonstrations and each has a different target. I think each
      is equally impressive but the "glowing plastic orb" is a better gaming
      interface and will be substantially more precise.

      Project Natal offers totally new methods of interaction but will take
      longer for real implementation to be seen.

      In short, you must be a true OMer to see Project Natal being any bette (or
      worse) than the "glowing plastic orb".
  • I have never, ever, seen this in my life, but I've seen Nintendo Wii.

    That demonstration blew my mind away. Impressive!
    Grayson Peddie
  • Regarding MS Natal's no controller vs. Sony's Orb

    There is the discussion that MS doesn't use any controller, vs. Sony's use of a controller - and the tactile feedback it gives.

    I would think that MS can get the upper hand here: MS can choose to STILL use a controller for some games, as MS Natal (from what I gather in the demos) what it does in the end is extract something like a human body and analize its position - a far harder feat that recognizing a specific orb. So, they could in the end use the same algorithms to follow an orb a la Sony's. They could get both kinds of experiences, if they choose to.
    Roque Mocan