Asus wants to replace your Xbox/Nintendo Wii/Sony PlayStation in your living room, and change the way you interact with your computer on your television with the WAVI Xtion, which was unveiled at Computex 2011 yesterday in Taipei, Taiwan.
Rather than rely on a mouse to indirectly select on-screen options, the WAVI Xtion wirelessly interprets the user's hand and body movements to control the computer's content as displayed on the TV. Want to look through your hard drive's movie library for something to watch on the TV? Simply move your arm in front of the TV to navigate the interface. If this sounds a lot like the Xbox Kinect, well, you're correct as Asus' partner is none other than PrimeSense, the Israeli-based company that designed the Kinect.
While the Kinect only works with a TV hooked up to a 360, the WAVI Xtion connects HD digital content from computer to television, via wireless HDMI (WHDI technology) with a range of up to 25 meters. One receiver/transmitter must be placed by the computer, while the other is next to the TV, and a motion sensor on top of the television for the system to work.
Asus clearly wants to become your next streamlined PC-console gaming hub, and has greater ambition than just be an outlet for casual games. After all, it demoed the made for PC Need for Speed on stage at Computex, which required no driving peripherals at all. Though no future titles have been announced yet, the WAVI Xtion will ship with three games -- MayaFit, Beat Booster and DanceWall -- that take advantage of its motion sensing capabilities, and offer an Xtion Portal that is essentially a marketplace where users can purchase new games and "utilities". It even one-ups traditional consoles by promising to "incorporate gesture-based controls into many existing PC games" through the Xtion Engine, according to its press release. (Watch a video of the Asus device from IDG News Service.)
Unfortunately, Asus did not provide an update on pricing or whether the WAVI Xtion will reach North American shores, even though we were told backin March at CeBit2011 that the console will be available in May. Much like most other video gaming consoles, the device offers more multimedia features than just games:
Xtion Browser: Navigate the Web using hand and body movements to zoom in and out of webpages, change font sizes, icons and graphics.
Social networking: Catch up with friends using the controller-free interface and gesture input like the virtual on-screen keyboard.
It's entirely too soon to judge the WAVI Xtion when there is no word on upcoming titles for this platform; major third party support will be key to the system's success. But there is no doubt that by incorporating some gesture controls into PC-games, ASUS has given those who game on both consoles and PCs a serious alternative.