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Come do the locomotion with me

What does the future hold for motion sensing consoles? Sameer Desai finds out.

tech reviews Updated: Jun 01, 2010 14:55 IST
Sameer Desai

Lots has been written about the evolution of motion controlled gaming and its future. Today, we give you a comparison between the Nintendo Wii, Project Natal and the PlayStation Move.

Nintendo Wii
The Wii started the motion control phenomenon three years ago, and to date offers compelling gameplay. At its core are the Wiimote and a sensor bar. The Wiimote features a 3D accelerometer, optical sensors, and standard buttons and a directional pad. A secondary controller, the Nunchuck, features an analogue stick and an accelerometer, but lacks optical sensing.

Although the Wii can sense motion in a 3D space, not many games have been able to detect the depth of the controller’s location. But while the Wii may be lacking in the technical department, Nintendo has made up for it via accessories like the Wii Balance Board, which has been a phenomenal success, and the Wii Vitality Sensor that will release this year.

But the biggest testament to the Wii’s success is how Sony and Microsoft are trying to catch up by introducing their own motion sensing consoles. Soon, we shall see the Wii’s successor, the Wii HD.

Project Natal
Natal’s technology is the most radical as it does away with a controller. It employs only a camera that uses a CMOS censor and infrared to detect motion in a 3D space. The Natal software uses innovative skeletal mapping technology to pick up body movements. By removing the controller, Natal aims more to make gaming accessible to casual gamers.

However, due to the nature of the technology and Microsoft’s secrecy, certain doubts concerning input lag and accuracy remain. But Microsoft has promised that this will be fixed by the time it launches.

Another concern is that you have to stand far from the controller for your body to fit in the camera frame, so you need too much space.

However, a game and the Natal camera is all you need to let up to four players join in.

PlayStation Move
PlayStation Move incorporates elements of both the Wii and Natal. There are two controllers — the primary Move controller and the secondary Move navigation controller that uses the PlayStation Eye camera to capture motion.

Since its unveiling last year, the Move has demonstrated good accuracy and minimal lag. By including motion controllers and a camera, it allows developers to leverage controller accuracy with features like facial and gesture recognition and head-tracking. The Move has also helped Sony garner third-party developer support.

It boasts pinpoint accuracy, negligible lag and good software support but a gamer will have to invest a considerable sum to get the console.

It remains to be seen if the PlayStation Move can take motion-controlled gaming beyond what we have already seen with the Wii.