Jun 3, 2009

Microsoft Project Natal & Sony Motion Control

So this year at E3 both Microsoft and Sony announced full body motion controllers for their game systems. Microsoft demoed Project Natal, and Sony demoed the cleverly named Sony Motion Controller. I know, wish I had thought of that name.... Both of these systems are trying to take the Wii controller style to the next level (ick, did I really just write "to the next level"? Shoot me now...)

Let's start with Project Natal. It promises to bring hands free control to a variety of game types (eg racing, sports, etc). It gives a 1-to-1 avatar control system, so whatever movement you make, your avatar will reflect that on screen. While there is no announced release date, Microsoft has stated that Project Natal will work with all versions of the Xbox 360 (but no info on price either!)

Here is Microsoft's Project Natal commercial (from my favourite site Joystiq):

My initial thought was that this was a cleverly arranged tech demo, and at this stage would never really work as shown at E3. While I am still not entirely convinced, I have read a number of reports from people who had a chance to try the system, and they seem impressed...

Sony went in a slightly different direction with their new system - it's a controller wand you hold that works in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye camera. The wand is replaced on screen with whatever weapon or tool is appropriate. This system seems to be the middle ground between the Wii controller and Microsoft's Project Natal. The Sony system is due to be released in spring 2010.

Here is Sony's Motion Controller demo:

Both of these systems can detect 3D motion (so forwards/backwards as well as left/right). While I don't think these systems will replace traditional controllers for every game, I think they will have their place. Imagine flipping through the dashboard on your Xbox 360 by just waving your hand - shades of the interactive user interface in Minority Report!

Oh, and FYI, "demoed" just looks wrong....

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