Rumor: Microsoft Working On Motion-Controls Too?


Posted May 1, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

Xbox Motion

We at TheFeed are sometimes accused of being biased in favor of one console over another. It isn't true (except for my on-the-record views on how badly Intellivision sucks compared to Atari), and to prove it, I'm going to repeat a story I wrote earlier today about the PlayStation 3, except this time, it's going to be about the Xbox 360. Here goes:

There is a rumor on the internet, credited to an unnamed source, that Microsoft is planning to introduce motion-sensing controls to the Xbox 360. Unlike the rumored PS3 motion controls, the 360's won't involve LED lights or another controller. Supposedly, Microsoft is working on a sensor bar with a webcam that will read your motions, down to the smallest gesture, and translate those into video game fun.

Here's what the service will supposedly offer, according to Engadget's source:

  • Full body and hand gesture control of games / characters.
  • In fighting games you kick, punch, duck, dive, jump and so forth with your body.
  • It also picks up small hand gestures like pinching, grabbing and scrolling.
  • There will also be video conferencing and games with video.
  • Trivia game over the internet with live images of each person playing. When a question pops up, they can clap to buzz in.
  • You can "move objects on your screen" and the other party can see what you're doing in real time.
  • Sensor detects only the person playing, not folks observing on the couch.

Hmmm. Interesting, but I'm suspicious. First off, look at the above picture (swiped from engadget). While it isn't obviously doctored, it does look like a set-up in someone's living room as opposed to in a Redmond, Washington office somewhere. To me, that clearly looks like a coffee table in the foreground and not a conference table, and, just eyeballing it, it looks a little like the lighting might be off on the sensor bar itself, like it's brighter than it would be. Secondly, we've heard that Xbox was making motion-sensitive controllers before, as far back as 2007! We've hear it more than once, from respected sources, but none of these products has hit the market and Microsoft has always denied it.

But on the plausible side of the ledger, it's not like leaks on the internet are unheard of, and maybe Microsoft's testing rooms do have oriental carpets. It is getting close to E3 and Microsoft has promised to "completely transform how people think about home entertainment," so maybe it has something big up its sleeve. Something like a control system that doesn't have a controller. 

If this is coming out, I feel the same way about this as I do the rumor of a PlayStation 3 motion-sensor: It's an interesting novelty, but I doubt either system plans to base their whole future on motion-sensing. Judging from the Wii, it's really only fun for a little bit to play with "unique" controls. After an hour or so of any Wii game, most people want to go back to "traditional" control schemes. And If I have to really kick, punch and jump around while playing games, I'm out. If I wanted to do that, I'd excercise!

We've put the word out to Microsoft and hope to hear back soon, but don't expect much. In the past, the company generally says something like, "We don't comment on rumors and speculation,"


Rumor: Microsoft Working On Motion-Controls Too?


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