Xbox 360 to challenge Wii with motion-sensing camera?

Xbox 360 to challenge Wii with motion-sensing camera?

Summary: A report says that Microsoft is developing a new video camera for its Xbox 360 video game console that will allow players to control games with the movement of their bodies.

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The Wall Street Journal may have spoiled one of Microsoft's big surprises at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The Journal Tuesday posted an article sourcing "people familiar with the matter" as saying Microsoft "is developing a new video camera for its Xbox 360 video game console that will allow players to control games with the movement of their bodies."

The brief piece went on to say that the add-on would not require any physical controller like the Wii, before speculating that it might--might--be shown at E3. After declining to answer the Journal's queries, corporate reps would tell GameSpot only that "Microsoft isn't commenting" on the report.

If the notion of a 360 motion-sensing camera sounds familiar, it should. So far, 2009 has seen an increasing number of reports that Microsoft is working on such a device. It all began in February, with reports that the Redmond, Washington-based software behemoth had bought 3DV Systems, a small Israeli company that produced the Z-Cam camera, which senses motion along the X, Y, and Z axes. Sources not only confirmed the deal to VentureBeat correspondent and Xbox expert Dean Takahashi, but also told him that the camera was "definitely" being used for a 360 add-on. The journalist said the camera's "motion detection was accurate, much more so than with the Wii."

After lying fallow for months, the 360 3D camera rumor resurfaced last week, when tech blog Engadet posted a photo of a motion-sensing camera peripheral hooked up to an Xbox 360. The controller's capabilities sounded virtually identical to that of the Z-Cam, with "full body and hand gesture control of games [and] characters" including the ability to "kick, punch, duck, dive, [and] jump."

The add-on will also apparently recognize "hand gestures like pinching, grabbing, and scrolling" and will also feature live video conferencing, among other features. According to reports on the tech site Ars Technica and the UK newspaper The Guardian, these abilities were the same as those displayed by the Z-Cam when it was at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

Check back the morning of June 1 for GameSpot's live coverage of Microsoft's press briefing from the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

This article was originally posted on GameSpot.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Microsoft

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13 comments
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  • Wii isn't successful because of technology

    It's the games, stupid. More mainstream appeal. The average person isn't interested in playing games to kill people or work on quests that take weeks to finish, they just want to have fun.
    Michael Kelly
    • This type of control

      may bring more games like that to the platform. I can't imagine any serious FPS or RPG using that style of game control.
      But frivolous, just for fun type games could.
      mdemuth
      • That means they have to follow up with actual games

        And one of MS's shortcomings over the years is to take a good first step, then step back and expect everything to fall into place after that. Technology alone won't bring more games to the platform. Wii was successful because they had the basic tech nailed down AND they took the steps in making a fun gaming environment AND they made the first games for that environment. And they didn't waste resources on frivolous tech like 1080p resolution or surround audio, they concentrated on the games themselves.
        Michael Kelly
  • This failed on the PS2 already

    I don't see why people are acting like this is some brand new tech. The PS2 already had something like this and it failed miserably. And sensing body movement is not the same as something you hold and sense movement. MotionPlus will stomp this into the ground. As it stands Tiger 2010 is looking to be the greatest golf game ever released. Especially with the added Disc Golf mode.
    LiquidLearner
    • But what if ..

      ... the games produced by MS to take advantage of
      this cam would include something to hold? Guitar
      Hero already include a guitar, doesn't it? I
      imagine, that, for instance, for a golf game sold
      by MS, they can ship the game with a cheap golf
      bat that people can hold while looking at the
      camera. A ping pong game would ship with something
      similar.

      Yeah, if these accessories do not include
      something to attach them to the person's hand,
      they can cause some damage, so I imagine they will
      include some thing for that.
      markbn
      • Which would increase game costs

        instead of lower them. Bad plan. I could be wrong but I doubt it. This isn't going to stand a chance to true one to one hand-controls. The camera would have to be extremely high quality to notice every twitch in your hand. Additionally it would be subject to outside interference, like a friend jumping around behind you when it's not his turn. I know I would certainly do that to a friend.
        LiquidLearner
        • What about lighting, pets?

          Nevermind that lighting is no doubt going to be an issue. I don't want my game console to require me to have certain lights [or light levels] to play - along with the extraneous movement like you mention.

          I'm not going to put our cat in a cage to play games - and it will be epic fail if my cat screws up my play.
          markfelten@...
          • Depth.

            The camera can sense Depth, to an amazing degree I may add. Theoretically, the software would be smart enough to remember where you were in proximity to the camera to distinguish background noise solely on the basis of depth. Your cat would probably be more of an issue if it decides to rube against your legs or perform some sort of flying feline tackle than if it simply walked behind you.

            Look up the articles about the Z-Cam and on the middleware providers that were developing with pre-release versions of the cameras. They were pulling off some pretty amazing body recognition using the depth sensors.

            I can't wait for this technology to fall into developers' hands. I just hope the software doesn't disappoint.
            etaoin_shrdlu
  • next M$ flop

    M$ bought a reasonable good product and now it will 'enhance' it by making it useless.
    Linux Geek
    • Shut up, fool.

      nt
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • RE: Shut up, fool

        Hey! Don't tell him to shut up, even if he is stupid and never has anything meaningful to contibute he gets his chance to blather.
        Col Mustard
        • Ah but.....

          I've been in the computer tech business for many a decade now and it
          seems to me that MS is a reactionary company rather than a take the
          lead type. No as most know I am a huge Apple fan..... still I don't
          credit Apple with actually inventing a lot of tech. However what they
          seem to be able to do is create "NEW" uses for existing tech or
          dramatically improve the way a given tech or technologies are being
          used? When they do this they often (not always) jump into the lead
          and of late a lead they do not surrender easily. I sit next to a fellow
          worker who just recently traded in his XBox 360 for a WII. His
          comment was that with the WII he's never just sitting and pressing
          buttons he's involved on a whole different level than this ex XBox
          could provide him.

          What I would like to see from MS is something.. anything that takes
          the tech that has proven itself and bring it to the NEXT level not
          another run at catching up. It's just rather dull.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
  • Don't know why people fuel the M$ hype machine.

    If you've worked in security or with facial recognition, etc. you probably still don't have something as cutting edge as they say this technology is. What about skin tones, lighting, and clothes the color of the wall behind me. Computers and hardware still have issues with these. So I can see nothing I can get for $19.99 on a console that deals with these issues any better. They could combine it with a motion sensor, which would make the detection more reliable...But now we'd be talking Nintendo v. M$ lawsuit.

    The motion sensor in the Wii is not perfect, but it has a following. But eventually it does get old. I'm sure Microsoft is just concerned that the immediate hype might be pulling current XBox users to a new platform. So if they string everyone along like with all other M$ products and hype it up, the camera if it is ever even released will be only good enough that someone with an XBox will buy the camera rather than a whole new Wii console.

    As a matter of fact, I would say that allowing a rumor such as this to leak accomplishes more for M$ then releasing the actual product. Because people with the Xbox, investors, etc. will hold out and wait to see what's coming.

    Of course with M$...what's usually coming is the same crap in a shiny new chamber pot.
    Socratesfoot