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Razer Hydra Brings Motion Control To PC Gamers 111

Zothecula writes "While motion controllers are becoming a staple for console gamers with the release of the Wii, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect, PC gamers have been left wanting. Razer is looking to change that with its Hydra motion controller which has been developed specifically for PC gamers. Unlike console-based motion control systems, the Hydra uses magnetic tracking technology by way of a base station that emits a magnetic field that Razer says allows the exact location and orientation of the handheld controllers to be detected with millimeter accuracy."
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Razer Hydra Brings Motion Control To PC Gamers

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  • Old school (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:24PM (#35936744)
    Great, now lets get the 3d head mounted display - which is where this type of tracker was originally used way back when - and get on with the real 3D environments. I played Dactyl Nightmare in the early 90's and have been waiting for that to arrive at home for like 16 years. And that was powered by what? An Amiga?
    • 3d headset for under $1,000. []

      Add some LEDS and the Wii controller will be able to do 3d tracking, or just throw a couple accelerometers on it.

      Quake is open source, just code in to render two scenes from two different POVs and put them together into some acceptable 3d format.

      Voila, quake in fully immersive 3d. Personally I'd like to add separate aiming and viewing so I don't always have to shoot in the center. This is only necessary if you are holding a gun that's being tracked as well.

  • Pass (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stratoukos ( 1446161 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:32PM (#35936812)

    While motion controllers are becoming a staple for console gamers with the release of the Wii, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect, PC gamers have been left wanting.

    No, not really.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. The only thing I sometimes miss is vibration from controllers, but I trade it gladly to use a mouse.

      Have a +1 and a nice day.

      • []

        I had one of these circa 2002.
      • Indeed. The only thing I sometimes miss is vibration from controllers, but I trade it gladly to use a mouse.

        Have a +1 and a nice day.

        Heh. Try playing more than just shooters.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Strategy games? Trying playing Starcraft with a motion controller.

        • How, exactly, does one play an RTS with a controller? I can't even begin to imagine it.

          • The same way as with any other console game that doesn't port well....the developer slows/dumbs it down until it works. I don't really play console games, not sure if there as ever been an RTS console game. There probably will be eventually though, too much money to be made.
          • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

            There have been numerous RTS's that work just fine with controllers. "Halo Wars" was a particularly successful example. PC snobs who say you "can't play such-and-such type game with a controller" remind me of my roommate who used to say that consoles would never have a decent FPS because no controller could be possibly ever handle one. Then Halo, Gears of War, Bioshock, et. al. came out and he had to eat his words. Today he's probably saying the same thing about MMO's, even as DC Universe Online is starting

    • Yeah the last thing my gaming PC needs is fucking motion control. It's bad enough that an Xbox 360 controller is basically required to play today's shitty console ports, but at least I can sit down and play with that.

      Doesn't Razer get that a PC is supposed to be the anti-console?

      • PC isn't supposed to be anything, especially nothing defined by consoles.

        Computers are versatile and are hundreds of things depending on the user, the software and the hardware. They are not the "anti-console", and console-like gaming fits the PC just as well as indie games, boring shooters and office tools.

        Don't define yourself by what you're not. And more importantly, don't use that to define others.

      • by Jartan ( 219704 )

        The reason a lot of PC gamers hate consoles is straight up because of the thumbstick. This thing has thumbsticks but obviously the motion controls will be the primary pointing device.

        There are plenty of things this COULD be great for if it's as accurate as they say. The problem is simply whether or not they can get enough game support. Going by past products I'm going to guess no.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yeah.. we already tried motion control sidewinders, headtracking mouses.. touchscreen hacks for sniping and all that were common ages ago.

      fact of the matter is that it sucks for long term playing. it's only good if the user will use the application/game for a total of 1 minute, eliminating learning curve. also minority report style ui's really suck and have been tried for years and years. i don't want to be a conductor in a shitty band.

  • Not from a magnetic field from any reasonable distance, not by itself, liars.

    You need a whole slew of additional sensors to even get close to such accuracies.

    • by Skidborg ( 1585365 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:38PM (#35936858)
      It is to a millimetre accuracy, it's just that that is also the full motion range of the controller.
    • Yes, you can do 6 DOF, with only magnetic fields, with sub-mm precision. Ascension and Polhemus are two companies that sell such products.

      Look at the stats for Polhemus' Patriot. About 0.01 mm resolution at 1 foot. That beats your "liars" stat by about two orders of magnitude. []

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        I said reasonable distance.

        For me, that's just over 10 feet away, like I sit right now from my monitor.

        • by Omestes ( 471991 )

          I said reasonable distance.

          For me, that's just over 10 feet away, like I sit right now from my monitor.

          I doubt that many people sit that far away, and I doubt that many people would find that "reasonable" because that fact. Right now I'm about 3 feet from my 24" display, when I'm typing I'm less, when I'm watching a movie I'm a bit farther. But I'm never 10' (in my den its only 10' from my monitor to the back wall). Sure, on my HTPC I sit back a bit (as far as 7'-8'), but I don't think a television is considered a monitor, even when connected to a PC.

          To me a reasonable distance would 3'-4'. For a console

        • The base station is tiny and you can put it wherever you like, even behind you, because it's absolute position/orientation, not relative position.
      • I'm impressed that they manage to deal with ambient magnetic fields. Your average PC has a few modestly chunky motors in it, plus power magnetics in the PSU, and the FCC doesn't regulate magnetic fields, so if it doesn't delete the HDD, it isn't an issue. Back in the CRT days, there were some speakers that had sufficient magnetic fields that they could not be placed near the monitor, on pain of rather horrid image distortion, as well.
        • It only deflects if you get VERY close (inches) from a large metal object, like a shelving unit. Also CRTs could play merry hell with it if you got the controller less than a foot from them. The EMF from a normal computer isn't even remotely a problem, the magnetic field from the base station is very strong.
    • by Peteskiplayer ( 1032662 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:38AM (#35939674)

      Not from a magnetic field from any reasonable distance, not by itself, liars.

      You need a whole slew of additional sensors to even get close to such accuracies.

      The Polhemous Liberty and other devices have been around for a while now and offer 0.03" accuracy with 6DOF: []

      These only use a single sensor (for a single location, can use many with one base station for multiple points tracking), I've used them for motion tracking and they seem pretty accurate to me. I'm not sure what you consider reasonable range, but considering the Razer system is supposed to be used with a PC, I'm guess you're not counting in the 10s of metres. This system has an optional source which can get you 5 metres of accuracy from the base station.

      These are quite expensive (in the thousands of pounds sterling) so would be interesting to see how Razer managed it on the cheap.

    • Define reasonable distance. In this case it has millimeter accuracy to 6 feet from the base station, with slightly less accuracy out to 8 feet. You don't need a slew of sensors, just one magnetic sensor for each axis per controller (read: three).
  • by Burning1 ( 204959 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:38PM (#35936866) Homepage

    Obligatory Zero Punctuation on Motion Controls [].

  • Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I really don't like the idea of any kind of magnet anywhere near my PC. I get nervous if anything gets close to my speakers. Maybe that's just a relic of floppy disc/CRT days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ben kohler ( 1109391 )
      TFA: "Razer says the magnetic field put out by the Hydra base station is 20 times weaker than the Earth's magnetic field, so it shouldn't affect objects such as credit cards, HDDs or speakers in the surrounding area."
      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        what about my 1983 apple // disks?

      • Couldn't they have just used the Earth's magnetic field instead.
        • No, it uses multiple differently oriented magnetic fields to calculate it's position. (earth's has one orientation)
      • by mortonda ( 5175 )

        TFA: "Razer says the magnetic field put out by the Hydra base station is 20 times weaker than the Earth's magnetic field, so it shouldn't affect objects such as credit cards, HDDs or speakers in the surrounding area."

        If it's weaker than the earth's magnetic field, why not just use earth's magentic field?

  • Judging by their Razer Megalodon headset, which is a PITA to install on Windows 7 due to a driver issue [], I have no real faith this will work as described either. Razer just isn't what it used to be...
    • I just built a gaming rig, this past summer, and I ordered a razer mouse and keyboard off newegg to go with it, both died due to manufacturing defects within 6 months. I checked around on google and it looks like a bunch of other people had the same problems with those products and then some got RMAs and the replacement units did the same thing... I saved myself the UPS fee and put it towards a nice logitech mouse and keyboard, sturdy as heck.

    • Razer's just not very good at writing software for their products (maybe they hired some ex ATI staffers). I've got a mamba mouse, the software screws up all the time. End up having to "reboot" the mouse to get it going again.
      • razerd on linux + qrazercfg. Works great now that I figured out how to compile it.
        3500dpi on my Lefty DeathAdder's very nice.

        • by Omestes ( 471991 )

          Where did you find a lefty-version? I scoured their site and didn't find any reference. I'd love to replace my aging wired Copperhead, it still works fine but the scroll wheel is a getting a bit sticky, but I hate mouse shopping since decent mice with any functionality are largely only right-handed, and most ambi models kind of suck.

          • They've so far only made one mouse in a left-handed version, and that most likely as an experiment(Their founder being left handed might also have something to do with it...)
            You can buy it here: [] or on Amazon etc.

            • I used a mouse left handed for the first 3-4 years I had a PC...I finally just bit the bullet and went right handed only. Since the right handed devils have always forced us to use our off wasn't that hard of a transition. I did have a mouse on either side of my keyboard for a while though, which was an interesting setup. To this day I can use a mouse with either hand and never mix the buttons up.

              Fight the good fight my left handed brethren.
              • Heh. I've always used ambidextrous or /right handed/ mice with my left hand... in right-handed button mode(well, once I started using actual mice - I used TrackPoints before that most of the time). Adjusting to the left-handed deathadder was quite a bit of a retraining for me, but does seem to have increased my accuracy and such.

    • Razer did not develop this. It was developed by Sixense and branded Razer by Dell.
  • LEFT, RIGHT, LE.. oh crap my hard drive just got wiped by EMF. Thanks Razor. :(
    • I suspect that I'm walking into a joke; but contemporary HDD platters actually have fairly high coercivity. A decent rare-earth magnet will give you a bit more than a Tesla, if measured at the magnet's surface, so rubbing the platter down with one is not advised; but devices capable of wiping an HDD without opening the case tend to draw multiple amps of mains current, and devices capable of wiping an HDD from a distance tend to involve superconductors and cryogens...
      • To wipe securely and uniformly, sure. I've seen corruption caused by less though. Also the platters aren't the only concern.

        But yes, it was a joke
  • Fairly sure we've had one for a while now, considering I just saw it down at my local shops. Not that it's seen much support.
    Oh, here it is [], and on Slashdot no less. The Asus Eee Stick, released circa 2008. My, how soon we forget.
  • Standing by for all the frivolous and completely ignorant lawsuits and claims that these devices cause cancer, disturb sleep, cause depression, etc etc etc.... ...gotta love watching people who have no grasp of how things work start coming up with 'reasons'. Sure, its a pain that actual trials are held and so many people get pwned by science, but its sure fun to read about!

  • Or you could just use your Wii controllers with your pc using bluetooth. I love playing Assasin's Creed on the big tv, with surround sound, and my wii-controllers so I can jump around instead of being hunched over in front of the computer screen. Also works great for controlling your pc's media player like a remote control.

  • The flight sim community has been using TrackIR to control POV for quite a few years now.
  • Razer peripherals have some great features. I particularly like how their designers have really studied mouse ergonomics and have produced good designs for different types of grips for different types of gamers.

    OTOH, Razer build quality is atrocious and Razer software matches the sloppiness of their hardware QA. It's ridiculous. I've had several Razer products fail within weeks or just never work properly at all. I'm talking about stuff like keys on the keyboard rubbing together and sticking combined wit
    • Someone also wasn' thinking when they made the charger for my Razer wireless mouse USB (I forget the model). When I am using the mouse the PC is on, so the charger is on... but the mouse is not in the cradle. When I stop using the mouse and put it back in the cradle to charge, the PC is off, so the charger is off...

      I realise some PCs supply USB power when switched off, but I can't see any BIOS settings to allow it on mine.
      So I have to use my wireless mouse in wired mode (at least that feature is a good idea

      • the PC is off

        Ah. That'd be yer problem right there.

      • Unless the charger has to be plugged in to the PC during use for some reason, you might be well served by dropping ~$5 for a teeny little AC-to-5v-on-the-power-pins-of-a-usb-socket adapter. Those things have become cheap as chips now that cellphones and ipods and stuff have moved to USB charging.

        If it does have to be connected, many powered USB hubs, if plugged in to their wall wart, will continue feeding downstream devices regardless of the power state of the upstream host. Since those also start at und
    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      I'm not terribly enamored of Razor's ergonomics given how horrible the side-button design is on most of their gaming mice (requiring WAY too much pressure to generate a click, making those buttons useless for frequent use).

      Then there are Razor's Linux drivers... oh wait, no there aren't. The only way to bind actions to the mouse buttons for their newer mice under Linux is to do so while running a Windows VM in VMware or VirtualBox and running Razor's configuration tool. And even then the tool allows for onl

    • This is simply branded Razer. Razer did not develop it.
  • FTFA

    The Razer Hydra will be available standalone or as part of a special edition Portal 2 Bundle that includes the Hydra system, that Portal 2 game and some Hydra-specific DLC. The Portal 2 Bundle will retail for US$139.99 and EUR139.99 – which seems a little unfair to European buyers

    As a European gamer, that does sound tempting - except it should be around €100 ($140), not €140 ($200).

  • by networkzombie ( 921324 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:18AM (#35938970)
    Motion controller? I want motionless controllers. I can frag 10 players with a slight wrist motion and even that is too much work. I want sensors connected to the back of my skull that let me tea-bag players without moving at all. I want to be suspended in a viscous fluid with my eyes closed fully submersed in virtual reality. I've played Wii tennis, and it's great and all, but real tennis is better. If I want to dance, dance revolution than I'm old enough and rich enough to go to a club in L.A., with a woman. One that smells nice. Need exercise? Go outside! When I game I need to be a cybernetic killing machine or a flying space monkey with a doomsday device. Waving my arms around in my living room is fucking stupid. I stopped playing portal 2 to post this rant. Let's see them do Portal 2 with a Kinect. Sorry, it won't work. The next games shouldn't even need you to open your eyes, because even that is too much. All the interaction should be in the game using virtual reality. That's why computers were invented. And porn.
    • Let's see them do Portal 2 with a Kinect

      Suddenly images of the WII mote meets tv screen fail videos came to mind, cept with the people hitting walls instead of jumping through a portal.

      Kudos for the Firefly reference.

  • ...And I've not seen one mention of the Novint Falcon: []

    I own one, and it is an awesome little device :)
  • "PC gamers have been left wanting."

    The only thing I want is a mouse that doesn't agitate my wrist with prolonged use. Motion controls tend to agitate my wrist more so than conventional controllers.
  • I would still say a mouse should be the pointer of choice for any PC FPS fan. If I wanted to use this I'd buy a console. How about something similar to the PS3 gun for FPS? That would be cool.
    • It can work like that if you want; just hold it like a pistol grip and the gun will lock orientation to it on screen.
  • I would say the majority of gamers play on a monitor that is under 30". I just can't see many people standing in front of that size of a screen playing a PC game with motion control.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.