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Input Devices PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

TrueMotion Game Controller a Step Up From Wii Remote 187

Harry McCracken writes "One of my top picks at the Consumer Electronics Show was Sixense's TrueMotion, a game-controller technology that resembles the Wii's remote, but uses an electromagnetic field to provide far more precision — it knows the exact location of the controller in 3D space and which way you're pointing it. (The Wiimote only knows which direction you're moving the controller.) TrueMotion-based remotes are due by Christmas, bundled with a PC game for under $100."
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TrueMotion Game Controller a Step Up From Wii Remote

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2009 @12:16PM (#26407577)

    According to the Heisenburg uncertainty principle its impossible to know both where an object is precisely, and where its heading.

  • by Space ( 13455 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @12:23PM (#26407629) Homepage

    The statement "The Wiimote only knows which direction you're moving the controller" is not accurate, The Wiimote has a three axis accelerometer in addition to an infrared camera. The camera looks for two infrared LEDs on the "sensor bar" and depending on the distance between the LEDs and their position in the image from the camera the Wiiremote can fairly accurately determine where it is pointed on the screen.

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @12:41PM (#26407715)

      Additionally they're releasing the Motion Plus in the future that would allow accurate tracking of where the thing is pointed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by neokushan ( 932374 )

      I wouldn't say it's "fairly accurate" at all, it can only determine where it's pointing on screen relevant to the size of the sensor bar. So if you have an insanely large screen, your movements become much more pronounced.
      It's also not very accurate in terms of motion. Move too quickly (and it's not that quickly at all) and it gets confused. This is why a lot of games only require tiny movements to make huge movements on screen, the only thing it knows are the velocity and the direction it's moving in.


      • I wouldn't say it's "fairly accurate" at all,

        I agree with that statement. For what Nintendo does with it, though, this doesn't matter -- since we humans can see what our actions do on the screen, and we just act like complicated and squishy feedback controllers to make things behave as we want -- without thinking much about it.

      • by cgenman ( 325138 )

        Since we have Gravity, it knows it's orientation in most directions.

        Actually, gravity is a highly complicating factor. When upright, the Wiimote knows it has an upwards acceleration. If you move it to the right, the wii mote has no way of knowing if that acceleration is from being moved to the right, or if the wii mote was tilted to the left and gravity is doing its work. You can get an upwards and backwards acceleration by keeping the wiimote upright and pulling back, tilting it about 45 degrees down an

        • Yeah but the force of gravity is a constant, so it should be theoretically possible to calculate it's direction when it's tilted.
          The problem is, if you tilt it away from the sensor bar, it's partially blinded.

    • by Paralizer ( 792155 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @01:18PM (#26407915) Homepage

      The statement "The Wiimote only knows which direction you're moving the controller" is not accurate

      That statement is accruate.

      The wiimote knows that direction it is moving in wiimote space, but not world space. I can prove it to you. Face north, hold the wiimote directly out in front of you with the A button facing up, and move it horizontally to the right. The force will push the accelerometer x-axis to the left, so the wiimote knows it is moving right. Now turn your body 90 degrees so you are facing east. Move the wiimote again to the right. Just like before the wiimote knows it is moving to the right. However, relative to the room you are standing in, you just moved the wiimote in two completely different directions. The wiimote doesn't know that.

      • Erm, thats obvious.

        Acceleration is the second derivative of position. If you define a certain point as origin (say, a certain orientation stationary on your desk), then you have a 3 coordinate system in which X and Y are complete 0 and Z is 9.8ms^2.

        Once we have reference point, we can calculate via acceleration on the 3 axes the velocity through space and orientation of said wiimote. However, the wiimote is only accurate to +/- 3g, which is very acceptable for a game console in such a small profile.

        • On paper, sure. In practice, no. The wiimote is +/- 3g with 10% sensitivity. If you start doing those kind of precise calculations starting with data that is somewhat inaccurate then you are going to end up with data that is nearly meaningless. It wasn't designed to be that accurate. If you buy an expensive accelerometer then maybe, but the wiimote uses a ADXL330 [] chip.
      • by HisMother ( 413313 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @02:07PM (#26408245)
        Except that when you're facing away from the screen, the camera doesn't see the LEDs, so in fact, the machine [i]can[/i] tell the difference. Another thing no poster has gotten so far is that the WiiMote can compute z-access position using the distance between the LED images -- as you get closer to the screen, the lights get farther apart. I realize that the system described in the article can do more, and do it more simply -- but people shouldn't underestimate what's possible with the existing hardware. There's more there than meets the eye.
      • []

        You have to use the accelerometer data and the IR data in order to figure out where the wiimote is located in 3D space and what direction it is pointing. []

        Elmo's World: The Video Game is a homebrew product with 3 mini games demonstrating the use of the Wiimote as a pointing device.

        The TrueMotion controller uses a lot more sophisticated materials and methods to get a more accu

      • by acidrain ( 35064 )
        Ok, look. The Wiimote has no idea what direction it is currently moving in. It only knows about *acceleration* in it's local space. So for example due to gravity, (a kind of acceleration) when you hold it still it knows exactly which way is down. But that is about it. Also the accelerometers are bloody cheap, so all they are really good for is triggering an event when you jerk the damn' thing.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Yeah, summary is wrong, TFA is somewhat correct:
      (benefits over wiimote) "it can tell exactly where it is and what angle youâ(TM)re holding it at."

  • Im sure it will work for Windows..

    What kind of an API can we get for the Linux side? I mean, I can think of some rather cool ideas (like using one to trace a wall for input on a virtual wall and using the remote to draw on the v-wall).

    And what's the power output like, along with frequency?

    Soo may questions, so little information.

  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @12:30PM (#26407665)

    There is no economic sense in a game developer using this. Until Microsoft mandates that a bit of hardware is required for a "Genuine" windows machine, it will not factor in to any rational developers plans. And in this case its never going to happen, because it notionally excludes laptops, and no matter how painful it is in reality to play a mouse and keyboard game on a touchpad, its still "possible".

    Anyway, MS want PC gaming dead just as much as everybody else now that X360 has been a relative success: any hardware innovation has to come from single source manufacturers, and in reality that means console manufacturers - and only Nintendo actually wants to even try - and Apple. All the clone makers just like to cower in a corner and pray for a behemoth like Intel, MS, or Google to innovate for them...

    Its sad really, that the 80's with myriad incompatible silos of innovation seem so bright nowadays...

    • For me at least, if PC gaming is dead, then windows is dead.

      OSX and Linux are more than adequate for my Internet and business applications.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        For me at least, if PC gaming is dead, then windows is dead.

        If PC gaming is dead, then indie gaming is dead. The vast majority of indie games are developed on and for PCs running Windows, Linux, *BSD, or Mac OS X, or they are developed on one of those for a phone.

        • True. So you can rephrase that to

              "If Mainstream PC gaming is dead, then windows is dead."

          Which is still problematic because of OpenOffice crappyness and other things. But I'd say that windows becomes less important when mainstream PC gaming is dead.

          Which won't happen because first person shooters and real time strategy only work on PCs.

          • Which won't happen because first person shooters and real time strategy only work on PCs.

            I won't deny that the Mac gaming market is in shambles now but things get better every year as:

            (a) sales of Apple machines come back around
            (b) devs realize that even though there's less Macs around, OS X ports sell a disproportionately larger amount
            (c) cross-platform coding gets easier, and hardware support for OpenGL gets better

            This all applies to linux as well.


        • I wouldn't go so far as to say indie gaming is dead. Torque [] has ports to the Xbox, wii and iPhone. Sure it takes a whole lot more to get agreements with the content providers instead of just buying a development kit from GG but it is doable.

          The days of a small group making a game without any real money involved are probably not so bright. We can hope that the iPhone and Android give us a new batch of indie developers with interesting ideas.

        • One of the most successful indie games of 2008, Braid [], was sold via XBox Live.

      • That sentiment isn't just yours. I along with a number of my friends have a Windows partition solely for playing PC games. If it wasn't for PC games Windows wouldn't be installed.
      • For me at least, if PC gaming is dead, then windows is dead.

        The key word here is "me" and it is one the geek uses far too often.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dmomo ( 256005 )

      This maybe has a chance:

      If they make the API open and give dev's a way to easily integrate.

      If they collaborate with other device makers to settle on a common ground for functionality. This type of device, I am guessing will make it's way into PC mainstream at some point. One standard will come out on top. They need to make sure they help drive that standard.

      If they allow other hardware makers to create devices that also work against that API so the developers aren't putting an effort into something that

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @01:16PM (#26407901) Journal
      At my former job I used to create softwar for Polhemus sensors, which apparently use the same principle. Let me tell you that the wiimote is nothing close to these devices. The Wiimote really looked underwhelming : orientation is approximative, aiming is impossible, lag is big. Here [] is something using such sensors. The games are not on par top what Nintendo can produce, but try to accurately position a lightsaber in the hands of someone with the wiimote (everything is realtime in the video)
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      lol, I would so much hate an Apple console.

      Price would be as a PS3 (high), hardware specs like a PSP (hit&miss on features) and the software would be like Wii sports (good idea and easy to pick up but missing out on depth.)

    • That's what they said about guitars, and drums sets, and dance mats, and 3D cards, and steering wheels, and flight sticks with throttle and rudder. But it doesn't stop people from making tons of money selling these things.
    • It'll make economic sense when the consumer can get the controller for under $50 and can make use of it with software they already have.

      I put together an Elmo game []

      for my daughter who's not quite 2 yet using the Wiimote and the XNA Game Library. But since it costs $40-50 for the controller plus $20 or so for a bluetooth adapter there's probably not going to be much demand for Wiimote enabled games on the PC.

      However if PCs came equipped by

    • this case its never going to happen, because it notionally excludes laptops

      I was struck by the discovery that the Mitsubishi "3D Ready" has made the home shopping channels.

      The laptop display isn't "the only game in town."

      The desktop PC remains a very flexible platform that can deliver a lot of bang for the buck - both for the developer and the user.

  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Sunday January 11, 2009 @12:35PM (#26407681) Homepage Journal

    I don't know about you, but when I use my computer, I'm sitting at a desk with a keyboard and a mouse. I'm too close to my monitor to start pointing a remote at it.

    I also can't imagine putting the remote down, use the keyboard, picking the remote again, repeat.

    The Wiimote is a great idea because we can't really use a mouse when sitting in front of a TV, and crappy, small, over-touchy analog sticks on a gamepad is a stupid idea to begin with.

    • It could be better, the motions that it wants aren't very good ergonomically for many. Pointing and rotating at the same time is something which is quite stressful on the wrist.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      I don't know about you, but when I use my computer, I'm sitting at a desk with a keyboard and a mouse.

      In other words, you "don't know about" home theater PC owners. Some people use their HTPCs to watch video; others use them to play games. Unlike a console, a PC can play indie games.

      I also can't imagine putting the remote down, use the keyboard, picking the remote again, repeat.

      Then put a half-gamepad in the other hand. Nintendo sells such a half-gamepad for Wii under the name "Nunchuk".

  • Now people will be able to bump against walls of the room and fall out of windows as they try to duck the enemy fire.

  • ...or at least good specs, there will be lots of people developing for this thing. At least one, me :-)

  • Perhaps I'm overly cynical of input technologies, but my take from the movie is that this is a *disaster*.

    Start with the best configuration the company could manage for the demo, with in-house software, and an experienced user. The system is still laggy and periodically jerky. It has the same lack of feedback as the Wiimote, so you need similarly simple gestures to make it usable. Their one advantage is that the position sensor should be orientation-independent, whereas the Wiimote's camera needs to see the

  • This isn't new; it's just cheaper. Magnetic motion tracking devices [] have been around for two decades. I had a chance to try "virtual ping pong", like this thing does, on an Autodesk system demoed at the Hacker's Conference two decades ago. All the gloves-and-goggles systems use magnetic trackers like this. So do some of the tracking systems used for motion capture. If you've been to SIGGRAPH, you've probably seen a dancer up on a platform wired up with multiple sensors, driving an animated character o

    • If you've been to SIGGRAPH, you've probably seen a dancer up on a platform wired up with multiple sensors, driving an animated character on a screen. [But...] Even relative accuracy wasn't that good. When I saw these things at SIGGRAPH, I'd sometimes gesture to the dancer demoing the thing to put her hands together, forefinger to forefinger. If the character on screen showed the forefingers touching, the system had decent relative accuracy. Usually it didn't.

      Some of these real-time motion capture systems have a cartoon character with exaggerated proportions on the other end. Character proportions in some art styles are supposed to differ from those of the actor; that's how we get Precious Moments figurines that are 2.6 heads tall [], not the typical 6 to 8 of a human. How would you expect a mo-cap system to correct for short, stubby fingers on some characters?

  • I could give a damn about a 3D game controller. But I would very much like to see cheap 3D input devices for animation and motion capture. Perhaps we'll first see this new Wii remote retrofitted to 3D software like Max. Can't happen soon enough!

    • Or you could just use one of those $700 spaceball dohickeys. Talk about overpriced. You could basically accomplish the same thing with a couple $50 joysticks.
  • Latency seems to be pretty high, doesn't it?

  • The Motion Plus is a small device that snaps into the bottom of the Wii remote to increase precision. Look for it soon to be packaged with Wii Sports Resort as well as a stand alone package.

    It was demonstrated at E3 and looked very good.

    +5 points for the idea, -500 for being months behind Nintendo.

  • It didn't really seem that sensitive and the lag really bugged me.
  • As an added bonus, you can automatically play the "Mess with Grandpa's pacemaker" game.

    (Note, if you are going to start blabbing about how the field isn't strong enough or something like that: preemptivewoosh)

  • Sounds like a great controller but it won't benefit from the network effect like the wiimote.

    I finally got a wii, it sat for about 7 months before I finally used it.

    It's okay- I bowl on it. The star trek game seems pretty painful so far.

    What I'd like is a basic RTS. seems like a dream combo.

    I have a 55" screen and control seems fine.

    This new remote is better- but because it is an add on, not a standard feature, it will join a million other great controllers that we don't even remember.

    • It's okay- I bowl on it. The star trek game seems pretty painful so far.

      What Star Trek game hasn't been painful (not counting the old BASIC text-based Star Trek game)? Try some games that make good use of the Wiimote. From my experience: Boom Blox, Okami, Zelda - Twilight Princess (yes, it's not what it _could_ be, but it's better than several games). It sounds like you were blase about the wii to begin with though; seven months is a long time for a geek to let a new piece of technology sit untested.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal