E3: Sony busts a move in motion control battle

Jaws dropped yesterday when Microsoft revealed its 'body control' technology for gaming - but Sony matched the software giant today when it demonstrated hugely effective motion controller for the PlayStation 3.

Whereas Microsoft's Project Natal is very much in its early stages, Sony leapt into the race today at E3, demonstrating a mind-blowingly effective controller system that Sony Computer Entertainment America boss Jack Tretton said could be on the market by autumn of next year.

Nintendo, the leader of the motion-based controller in recent times courtesy of its WiiMote, has further increased its lead at this innovative end of the market with its more accurate MotionPlus add-on.

But Sony's demonstration of its prototype Motion Control, which works in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye camera was incredibly impressive, and seemed like technology far closer to market than Project Natal

Shown by Dr Richard Marx, who worked on the PS2's EyeToy project, the control stick uses a glowing sphere on top of the device, which is tracked three-dimensionally by the camera.

"This far surpasses anything you can get on the market now," said Marx. "We've been hard at work on it for a few years. It's a new set of experiences for PS3.

"Its most distinctive feature is the glowing eye that the PS Eye can track. When you're playing RPG, for an example, you can choose fireball, and you throw to cast spell."

Another Sony engineer, Dr Antony Mikhaeloff, took on the role of stunt gamer while Marx explained the concept and talked the audience through a few functions. Mikhaeloff was rendered on the monitor on a virtual screen, in a three-dimensional virtual room. He was shown playing with a number of objects, hitting at tennis balls with a giant racket, swinging a baseball bat, even waving a dainty pink fan - although this was replaced with a massive gold Desert Eagle handgun, quickly restoring his dignity.

The one-to-one tracking was extremely precise, with an exercise stacking child's blocks showing just how accurate the Motion Control could be - even at this point in development.

"One thing that we learned from the EyeToy is that some experience need a button," Marx said. This does make sense, considering how strange it would feel to fire a gun in a first person shooter without actually pulling a trigger.

Mikhaeloff then demonstrated painting software, writing his name on the wall of the virtual room with a paintbrush, the pressure on the controller's analogue button determining pressure of brush strokes. This proved far more accurate than the results achieved at yesterday's Microsoft demonstration where gestures were vague, at best.

But what got the gamehead crowd really excited was when Marx announced it was time to go into a virtual arena to demonstrate just how fun Motion Control will be when unleashed on FPS or fighting games. The 3D tracking is clever enough that Mikhaeloff was able to reach behind enemies for more effective attacks. The next trick was the clincher - reaching over his own shoulder to pull arrows out of a quiver before dispatching them at enemies.

The three-way scrap for motion control supremacy is obviously far from over - two quite different principles which are still in development and a more rudimentary system that's already at market and getting better by the year. Only time will tell which of the big three really have got the best moves.

Matt Greenop is a guest of Sony PlayStation at E3 Expo



Taken from the New Zealand Herald

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

    Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Analyst - London - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Server Reporting Analyst (Busine...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower