Sony Motion Control at Develop Conference 2009

I personally think a great name for Sony’s upcoming motion sensing control would be ‘PlayStation Motion’. The ‘wand’ just sounds lame. ‘Nintendo WiiMote’, ‘XBox 360 Natal’ and ‘PlayStation Motion’. Sony are the only ones so far who haven’t announced an official name for their motion tech. But enough of my thoughts. Sony elaborated on their development with their motion controls at todays ‘Develop 2009’ conference, with some interesting nuggets of info. Annoyingly, the event wasn’t allowed to be filmed because Sony stress that this is still “prototype hardware”, so all news comes from live blogs and photos. Let’s see what Sony have up their sleeves then shall we?

E3 Demo: The examples that we saw at E3 2009 were repeated. That includes lobbing arrows at skeletons in a precise manner. Two motion sticks/wands were needed, one for each hand. One hand holds the bow, while the other pulls on the arrow string. It uses the PlayStation Eye, so there’ll be no need to buy additional hardware. The PlayStation Eye currently costs around £25 / €29 on its own, which potentially means that it could come down in price before Microsoft’s Natal arrives. However, that’s just speculation. The prototype wands are currently extremely rare for developers to get their hands on, and require them to “make a case” about their need for their use before Sony issue them with some.

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Facial Recognition: As we already covered today, it was announced that the current PlayStation Eye will be able to recognise many parts of the human face. It can tell the position and direction the head is facing, the age and gender of the face, and the emotion the user is expressing. So if you’re a smiling man, looking upwards, aged 87, it’ll know you’re creepy. It can look at the shapes of your mouth, eyes and nose. So while the Wii Fit can tell you that you’re fat, the PlayStation Eye will be able to tell you that you’re ugly. Imagine how this could potentially be used. While some games may react, such as Microsoft’s Milo, to your expressions, the fun could extend online. Imagine passing others online as they look angry when someone teabags them, or avatars running around PlayStation Home, fully animated via the player’s own body and face.

EyePet: The E3 trailer (already available for download from the PlayStation Store) was shown to act as an example. EyePet will use lots of motion tracking, such as your hands and body. We’ve all seen the image that you draw come to life in 3D, and Sony iterate that they’ve been working with motion technology since the PS2 and the EyeToy, so they’ve got a lot of experience.

Invizimal: Motion controls are coming to the PSP. A trailer is shown with a young girl attaching the ‘PSP Go!Cam’ (already available in shops for £35 / €40) and walking around outside. She follows a tracker, and an image of her appears on her PSP-3000, with monsters also embedded into the world around her. This is a Pokémon-style game, where you can catch the monsters in your local area and trade them with your friends, and fight them against each other. Of course, if you’re the Indiana Jones-type, you could get in your car and hunt down monsters in other regions, but seeing that this is aged at 8 – 10 year olds, if you’ve got a driving license this probably isn’t for you. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that Sony are also implementing motion controls into the PSP and PSPgo; something that the current generation of iPhone and iPod touch (PSPgo’s main competitor) can’t do so easily, as the camera is embedded on the back. The Go!Cam can be turned 180 degrees so it can either face you or your surroundings.

Tech-talk: After ‘Invizimal’ on the PSP, the Sony team start talking jargon, and mention how they’re utilising the hardware architecture of the PS3 and PSP. They cover VideoRAM and polygons, maintaining the frame-rate in games, and reducing GPU load. Amongst it all, we learn Sony can save 10% of the GPU with their awesome skills and that they have a horizontal hardware scaler only for 1080p resolution. This is all used in Killzone 2. Apparently, the PS3 GPU was nice when it came out, but there are nicer GPUs on the PC now. So they’re obviously spending time on finding ways to optimise the use of the PS3 hardware.

That’s it. The tech-talk took up most of the conference. Being a developer’s-based talk, that’s inevitable. If you wanted to hear all of the 70+ presentation slides read out, then VG247 will be posting the full audio capture of the event on their site soon. Check the source link for it later.

Source: VG247

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