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E3 Input Devices Sony Entertainment Games

Sony Rumored To Be Debuting Wiimote-Like Controller At E3 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-the-cool-kids-are-doing-it dept.
Anenome writes "Previously, we saw a Microsoft patent on a Wiimote-like device, and now rumors say that Sony too has a similar device in the works. This isn't surprising, given how dominant Nintendo's Wii has proved to be in this hardware generation. However, many gaming-geeks continue to lament the move away from plain old button-pressing. What is exciting is the prospect that all three companies may incorporate Johnny Lee-style head-tracking into the next console generation, which achieves a convincing 3D illusion on a regular vid-screen, leaving us just a few steps away from true positional 3D. Both the Microsoft and Sony patents incorporate a camera looking at the user, a required setup for achieving positional head-tracking."
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Sony Rumored To Be Debuting Wiimote-Like Controller At E3

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  • by Blue Shifted (1078715) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:16AM (#28107157) Journal

    we went from very simple digital joysticks, to analog joysticks, to analog pressure buttons, and now to multi-axis 3D input. i love it. it's what i've been wishing for since i was a kid.

    analog steering wheels probably represent the need perfectly. [well, at least in the racing games that lean to the simulation side as opposed to the arcade side....]

    i hope all the next-gen continue to get more nuanced inputs!

    • by qpawn (1507885) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:37AM (#28107283)

      The next logical step would be a controller that you can actually wear on your hand like a large glove. It would be so bad!

    • by hal2814 (725639)
      You missed a few. We went from all buttons to rotary knobs to digital joysticks to analog joysticks to digital gamepads to digital gamepads with an analog option to analog gamepads with a digital option to motion sensing nunchuck with IR pointer attached back to analog gamepad with a digital option but with rudimentary motion sensing tacked on to whatever Sony is putting out now.
    • The success of the Wii among current generation of console isn't *directly due* to the Wiimote.
      Adding a Wiimote-like peripheral to the next generation of consoles by Sony and Microsoft won't automagically replicate Nintendo's success.

      The main success of the Wii is due to Nitendo policy and shift of focus.
      The other consoles makers decided to design the current crop of console as "the same as before but with all graphic/processing power turned up to eleven ! Hardcore gamers will like it 'cause we'll make even

      • by Anenome (1250374)

        That avoids the facts, and the philosophy Nintendo themselves used to obtain that broader market. Nintendo claims that those who weren't hardcore gamers were put off by the massive learning curve of using the multi-button controllers seen on the PS3 and X360. Nintendo wanted to disrupt the market place with a new technology, one that would flip that dynamic on its head, and that technology was the Wiimote.

        You cannot separate Nintendo's success in garnering attention from previously non-gamers without taking

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can imagine, the next generation of 3D shooting games!!. Almost Virtual Reality.
    the problem would be "Almost Virtual Reality Shooting Games" vs "Almost Surreal Shooting Raids"
    could your classmates perceive the difference?.

  • They should really use this to mix style with innovation by putting the head controller into pimped out fur top hats or whatever is marketable. Game specific head controllers would be cool, like mock night vision goggles for fps games, football helmet for the next John madden game etc.
    • But then wouldn't you have to buy a hat for each game you buy? btw, first slashdot post
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by IBBoard (1128019)

      You need helmets to play football? You must be a wuss. Oh, you meant American Football... Still, most Rugby players don't need all that padding ;)

      You would be a bit stuck with games like FIFA that don't have head wear, plus anything other than "First Person ..." would generally be quite hard due to the lack of relationship between your position and the movement required on screen.

    • by Abreu (173023)

      Well, we already had to buy different plastic instruments for different music games*

      -

      *Although I've been told that they have come to their senses and become compatible once again

  • Nintendo fans will be bashing Sony for "once again copying" Nintendo soon enough. Also it wouldn't surprise me if Nintendo is secretly working on a better motion sensing technology themselves.
    • New from Nintendo: the Xii! with Full body motion sensing suit, and 3D stereo headgear. (Stationary hamster ball sold separately.)

      Seriously, I would be surprised if this WASN'T the next logical step.
    • by rinoid (451982)

      Yeah, the gaming industry really needs some GUARD RAILS so people don't steal so many ideas.

    • Re:Now to wait... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:40AM (#28107663)

      Do you mean like this?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wii_MotionPlus [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's the difference between a fan and a fanboy. I love Nintendo, but this is a good thing. You don't get onto a car company for shipping a product that has four wheels on the bottom. This technology will continue to improve and become more intuitive with three companies innovating instead of one.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Sony can copy their technology, but not their sales.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      They had the Motion Plus announced just prior to Microsoft's keynote last year to preempt the rumored revelations of motion controllers from Sony and MS.

    • Nintendo fans will be bashing Sony for "once again copying" Nintendo soon enough. Also it wouldn't surprise me if Nintendo is secretly working on a better motion sensing technology themselves.

      I just hope Nintendo is working to keep a step ahead in general. Adding more games to the selection would be good for both Sony and Nintendo, since Microsoft has a clear lead at the moment when it comes to selection.

    • I remember Sony showing a wand type thing with their prototype Eyetoy for the PS2 years ago, and here's a blurb from 2005:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7890 [newscientist.com]

      Sony doesn't need to copy Nintendo, they'd had motion sensing controllers and games longer than Nintendo has. Remember that the PS2's best selling addon is the Eyetoy, selling even more than the Network Adapter.

  • I know if nintendo can hit once, I can hit twice
    I hit the baddest chicks
    Shorty don't believe me, then come with me tonight
    And I'll show you maaagic
    (What? What?) Maaagic
    I got the magic stick
  • e a camera looking at the user, a required setup for achieving positional head-tracking

    Sure it's one setup, but it's hardly "required" otherwise it wouldn't have been possible to do the same trick with the wii-mote.

    Besides, what happens if your identical twin brother walks over next to you? Did they think of that? No, they clearly did not. Am I truly concerned? No, I don't have a twin. Do I like speaking in questions today? Yes, I do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slackito (985667)

      Sure it's one setup, but it's hardly "required" otherwise it wouldn't have been possible to do the same trick with the wii-mote.

      The wiimote acts as an infra-red camera (the "sensor bar" is a misnomer, it only has some leds), and IIRC the head-tracking trick involves a wiimote pointing at the user and some leds in the user's head.

      • and IIRC the head-tracking trick involves a wiimote pointing at the user and some leds in the user's head.

        Ouch!

      • I had thought the guy just mounted a wii-mote on his head.

        Still, face tracking with a camera would be less restrictive and involve less money on hardware in the long run than having to wear headgear which could get damaged or lost etc.

        The face tracking of course would be more CPU intensive and difficult to code, meaning poor responsiveness and accuracy for the first generation at least. At first I was thinking you would even have to determine which direction the user is looking in, but really you could real

        • by 91degrees (207121)
          Face tracking can be done on a PS3 in the space of a single frame. That's not where the problem is. Error recovery is. A fairly simply face tracking system will be able to tell you where the face is, based on known information and previous face position, but when it goes wrong it's almost impossible to detect or recover.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by somersault (912633)

            By impossible I assume you mean impossible to do it very quickly, but even mobile phones can locate faces on their cameras these days so it can't be too bad..

            • Locate, sure, determine whether it is a different face from another one? Maybe not.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by 91degrees (207121)
              It's mainly about accuracy. You can search for fleshy coloured ellipses (it's a little more complicated than this but not by as much as you might think) and the accuracy is pretty good. It's not 100% though. If a camera gets it wrong it's a minor inconvenience and you try again. If the system gets it wrong once every 100 frames there's a graphical glitch every few seconds.

              So you use motion estimation. Works really nicely. But turn round and it no longer looks like a face. Move your hand in front
          • My Sony digital camera tracks faces in the frame for me, and will even wait till it detects that everyone is smiling before taking the photo. I'm quite certain the Cell processor can out-do that.

        • by cube135 (1231528)
          He mounted the "sensor bar"-it was really two infrared LED's on a pair of glasses-on his head. The reason, IIRC, was that the Wiimote was rather heavy, and mounting the controller would have been a pain, while the LEDs and batteries didn't weigh that much, and were easy to fit on.
      • There's some fairly elegant* predicative stuff with the inertial sensors going on as well, iirc. On the order of the double-click timer, but with more sensor ball thingies involved in the data collection.

        *I assume it's elegant, since this is like the 4000th time they've refined the general 'tracking' idea but only the second or third version they've put on the market.
    • by Anenome (1250374)

      Go watch the Johnny Lee link I provided above so you know what you're talking about.

  • Shouldn't these camera based controllers have at least two cameras working together, so that they can triangulate 3D positions?

    • by sam0vi (985269)

      I'd guess they'll use resources other than steroscopic vision. Just like the human brain, this cameras can measure relative distance by the change in size, and some other clever evolutionary hacks.

  • whichever internal security agency decides this is a great way to "monitor" their citizens. How difficult would it be for such an agency to establish a remote connection to the box in question (PS3, Wii or Xbox) turn on the camera and record away "just in case" somehting nefarious is happening in the household. I should imagine that it would not be excessively difficult to establish this without adversly affecting the operation of the console. How much horse power does it take to send a VGA res 1-2 fps v
    • Hush! I'm already working on it and hoping that the next PS will be bought by many good looking females.

      Who said only governments should have all the fun?

    • by LordKaT (619540)

      There's paranoid, and then there's goddamn insane.

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      Scary thought... or paranoia?

      Remember: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not after you ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by internerdj (1319281)
      Maybe my math is wrong, but I'm getting about 4.5MB per frame if the signal isn't compressed. Don't know about you but I'd definitely notice a drag like that over my wi-fi connection. Simple solution: Make a spare tin-foil hat and put it over the camera when you aren't playing your playstation.
    • No more difficult then it would be to set up a proxy server and a firewall. Unless Microsoft imbeds it into the console level, in which case they would have to mention that in the ToS or EULA of the new console. That is IF its still a free country. BUM BUM BUUUUMMMM
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:49AM (#28107367)

    I use the Wiimote all the time with Smoothboard [smoothboard.net], which incidentally is a much MUCH better application than Johny Lee's.

    But really, the Wiimote's BT implementation sucks pond water from the bottom: you need to use the BlueSoleil [bluesoleil.com] stack, which is $$$ and can be quirky, unless you're really lucky and your Broadcomm or Toshiba stack works as-is, and the Wiimote doesn't autoconnect.

    Quite frankly, all the Wiimote needs is a small firmware fix to be perfect. No need for Microsoft to reinvent things, just make it compatible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      No need for Microsoft to reinvent things, just make it compatible.

      What does one thing have to do with the other? If you want compatibility, the last thing you'd want is MS to reinvent something.

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      I don't think either Nintendo or MS are keen to make something "perfect" that encourages people to invest in their competitors' consoles/controllers, respectively.
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Smoothboard is neat, but I'd rather see an app that can work with a couple wired cameras, instead. Having to mount and unmount the Wiimotes constantly to charge them seems like a major hassle, plus the whole issue with the bluetooth stack needed, etc.

    • you need to use the BlueSoleil [bluesoleil.com] stack, which is $$$ and can be quirky

      #1 - I got a BlueSoleil stack with my first Bluetooth adapter at no additional cost.

      #2 - My second adapter is a cheapo USB adapter that uses the default Windows stack. It works just fine with my Wii Remotes.

      In my experience, spending too much on a Bluetooth adapters is usually the root of the problem. If you have XP, I can recommend the adapter in this package [amazon.com]. It's cheap and works really well with Wii Remotes.

  • by wjh31 (1372867) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:50AM (#28107371) Homepage
    or is even the camera in the diagram staring at the ladies tits
  • Patentable? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:11AM (#28107517)

    Isn't it weird that you can describe a device as "Wiimote-like", but you can still patent it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Patent law in almost all countries only covers unique implimentations of an idea, not the idea itself. And in the few countries that are exceptions, you can only patent very particular ideas (e.g. "business methods"). So you can make something that's "Wiimote-like" in function, so long as its way of achieving that function does not infringe on Nintendo's patent and isn't covered by prior art. (Prior art objections are usually brought after-the-fact, mind you.)
    • by d12v10 (1046686)

      There aren't any patent laws against improvement on a device.

  • Stop me if I'm being stupid, but isn't Track IR a really good implementation of this? As I understand it, I'm doing this using TrackIR with 6 degrees of freedom.
  • It's been done (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tar-Alcarin (1325441)
    Why is it that no-one seems to remember the fabulous TrackIR (http://naturalpoint.com/trackir/ [naturalpoint.com]) when discussing Johnny Lee's headtracking gizmo? Is there any reason why this tried and true device couldn't or shouldn't be used in this application?
    • by Anenome (1250374)

      That's a nifty thing, but it's clearly more of an enthusiast / arcade focused product.

      Cost is prohibitive. TrackIR, at $149.95 is never going to ship with a console. Johnny Lee's implementation costs exactly the price of a Wiimote, about $40 (and his software is open sourced). Also, I couldn't tell from the videos how well it handles depth perception, though it does handle turning and looking quite well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL9dLB_5dT0 [youtube.com]

  • Debut? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Opportunist (166417)

    Shouldn't a debut include something new?

  • I'll add it to my other collection of Sony successes!

    Minidisc Player

    Betamax Player

    Playstation 3

    Sony Laserdisc

    Can't wait!

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      walkman
      3.5' floppy disk
      CD
      blu-ray

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vux984 (928602)

        blu-ray

        jury is still out on that one. it's done better than laser disc.

        but its still hasn't done better than betamax (sure it killed hddvd..but I remember when video stores were almost 50/50 beta/vhs and beta still lost.

        And in my opinion blu-ray's real competition is DVD. Sure bluray has the quality advantage... but then so did betamax... dvd's are cheap, well established, and look equally good on most people's tv's at the viewing distances most people watch tv at.

        bluray penetration and marketshare is expan

        • Blu-ray isn't backwards-compatible in the sense that you can pop one of the discs into an old player, but no mew media format is like that, reprogrammable (PC) stuff aside.

          It is, however, backwards-compatible to a greater extent than, say, DVD, as you can take a bit of media from the last generation (a standard DVD) and pop it into a Blu-Ray player and it'll work fine. Trust me, trying to stuff a VHS tape into a dvd slot is a pain by comparison.

          Anyhow, I think that people buying new playback hardware
          • by vux984 (928602)

            Blu-ray isn't backwards-compatible in the sense that you can pop one of the discs into an old player, but no mew media format is like that, reprogrammable (PC) stuff aside.

            Fair comment.

            It is, however, backwards-compatible to a greater extent than, say, DVD, as you can take a bit of media from the last generation (a standard DVD) and pop it into a Blu-Ray player and it'll work fine.

            On the other hand, you can't even media shift to go the other way, and while perhaps you never really could before; it didn't m

    • Sony Laserdisc

      Actually, Sony had very little to do with the laserdisc format. They came out with some lame players (actually, any player but a post-digital-audio Pioneer or a high-priced Home Theatre brand player was lame), and they manufactured [wikipedia.org] discs. [lddb.com] Oh wait. Carry on.

      But as it wasn't a Holy Sony Format, naturally they wouldn't care if their quality was crap.

    • What's wrong with the PS3? Most people would regard the 360 as a successful product, and the PS3 is selling at the same average rate of ~700,000 units per month. The 360 leads it in total sales due to its earlier release date, not by selling more.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rbarreira (836272)

        Sony went from 70% market share in the previous generation to around 20% now. That's what's wrong ;)

      • by rbarreira (836272)

        Oh, it has also lost Sony $4 + billion, maybe more than $5 billion.

        Source: Sony's financial reports in their investor relations page, Games division.

  • The problem ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKaT (619540) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:24AM (#28108005) Homepage Journal

    ... is the added complexity proposed to operate the gaming console. At first one button was fine, then two buttons, six, twelve ... now my wireless Logitech controller has no less than 18 buttons on it, two analog sticks, and a d-pad.

    The beautiful thing about the Wii is that while it's not as fast or responsive as simply pressing a button to do X, it helps alleviate the complexity of modern gaming. My dad -- who couldn't figure out how to play golf on the Xbox because of all the different button combinations -- had no problems playing golf on the Wii (he still has a hard time with, and has basically given up on, 3D gaming -- so 3D Zelda and Mario are right out for him).

    But now Microsoft and Sony continue to take the elegant design of the Wii controller (relative to the other gaming controllers, mind you) and add a whole bunch of shit to it to make it "better"

    Technologically, it might be better, but god damn, they are missing the point: it's not the motion controls that gave Nintendo the damn lead, it's the ease of operation that opened the console up to less than hardcore gamers.

    When my dad has to strap on a helmet just to play these games, he's going to junk the console, open his laptop, and play TextTwist into the night ... and I can't blame him.

    • by Clovis42 (1229086)

      My dad -- who couldn't figure out how to play golf on the Xbox because of all the different button combinations -- had no problems playing golf on the Wii

      Hmm... I find this statement odd, since I do have a hard time playing golf on the Wii. Or, at least, I have a hard time playing well. The controls are just way too finicky. I'd have a much easier time basing the power of my shot on one or two wildly swinging meters that I have to hit a button combination to stop at the right point. Every time I swing the W

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        I found it hard to properly gauge my shot power in golf until I assumed an actual golf stance, then it became easy.

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Don't blame the controller -- blame the game developers who insist on using every damn button available. There are plenty of games out there that use only a couple buttons, because that's all they need. Don't tell me I need a controller with fewer buttons because some marketeer says it's the "new thing". Simple interfaces do not mean simpler function, it just means it will probably look less scary to someone who has no idea how it's supposed to be used in the first place.

      I had a hard time playing Mario G

  • Subject says it all. There's a camera, there's a target. It's the Eyetoy, with a target. The eyetoy was lame because the PS2 only had enough processing power for simple games when doing the image processing. This ought to be less lame, but I still won't have one because there's not enough room for a PS3 in my living room, and besides, I already have a George Foreman grill.

    • ...there's not enough room for a PS3 in my living room, and besides, I already have a George Foreman grill.

      Um... my PS3 doesn't get particularly hot, and it's got the 90nm graphics chip and the 65nm Cell. The newer models have 65nm graphics chips, too, and consume even less power. The Xbox 360, on the other hand... well, I don't know if it consumes less power or not, but whatever heat it generates, it can't handle it [wikipedia.org]. Spacewise, I can't help you. But it fits in my living room just fine. :->

  • It'll be half as good, cost twice as much, come with a rootkit and won't connect to the InterWeb because, you know, it's full of pirates.
  • ugh! (Score:1, Troll)

    by DragonTHC (208439)

    with their failed ps3 product, and their loudmouth CEO and their draconian content policies, who isnt completely over sony?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Answer: the people who love their ps3s. Or people who don't give a shit about their CEO. Or those who think it's ridiculous to talk about being "over" a company (are we talking about video games or middle school relationships?)

    • Simple, those who feel some of Sony's products are superior. For example, the Sony Alpha-350 is an excellent Digital SLR. Some people also feel the PS3 is either superior to the other two platforms, or has the exclusives they like. As for the story, I think the competition will heat up once Sony and Microsoft release their Wiimote-like controllers.
  • Honestly, I like the Wiimote. I like the feel of it, I like the gimmicks it can us. I don't like that every game is forcing the player to use movement or aiming. I'm not terribly happy it's in the PS3 six-axis either. Ultimately that's why I bought an Xbox360.

    I'm happy with both consoles and each one excels for what I bought it for.

    • by Gizzmonic (412910)

      I'm not terribly happy it's in the PS3 six-axis either. Ultimately that's why I bought an Xbox360.

      "Flower" is the only game I know where six-axis is required. And it actually works very well.

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        No offense, but you must not know a lot of PS3 games. Lair required motion sensing, and was very harshly criticized for it. Toy Home is another, and is unplayable because of it. That's all I've tried so far.

  • Rootkits, the PS3, and now this?
  • The good old days (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    " However, many gaming-geeks continue to lament the move away from plain old button-pressing." ...because it's sooo intuitive to press triangle-circle-square-square-circle-cross to execute an overhand attack

    • by Anenome (1250374)

      I'm with you, I love the move away from button pressing. The next console round may be a second golden age of gaming, as the paradigm of gaming will have been utterly and finally shattered with all three companies moving into positional input and tracking, along with pseudo-3D display, and vastly improved Wiimote-devices. But, in talking with the EvilAvatar people, I've fielded many comments from PS3 and Xbox fanatics, hardcore fans of gaming, who dislike the Wiimote as a category and don't believe that Son

  • All well and good, but I'll lament the loss of ability to watch someone else play, which can be fun in its own right (and is essential in a large family with only one console!). With head tracking, the visuals don't make much sense unless you're the person playing the game..
  • Didn't executives of the game divisions of both Microsoft and Sony out right dismiss the Wii-mote concept as a silly gimmick?

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