Respected newspaper The Wall Street Journal has weigned in on what we reported earlier: Microsoft is planning on marketing a motion-sensing control-system that works by reading postures and gestures through a webcam attached to players' 360s.
Citing "people familiar with the matter," WSJ said the new camera-controller "uses 3-D technology, which gives players more accurate control over games than earlier game cameras did."
The camera is reportedly based on technology that Microsoft developed with help from Israeli start-up 3DV Systems Ltd.. 3DV held the patents on some of the tech the device uses, but Microsoft bought the company earlier this year for a reported $35 million.
No one is sure when the device will actually hit the market. But the best estimates are as follows: Microsoft will officially announce the system at this year's E3, but, according to Venturebeat, it could take until Fall 2010 to hit the market. The WSJ concurs, saying, "The Microsoft camera could be unveiled as early as the E3 videogame industry conference next month, though it likely won't be released until next year."
The arguments in favor of the long window between announcement and release are that Microsoft is working on bringing the price of this relatively exotic technology down low enough to make it palatable to consumers, and the year+ wait gives game developers a chance to work with the new technology to make new games. Personally, I doubt there will that long a time between announcement and retail for this product. I'm not marketing genius or anything, but I don't see why Microsoft would announce something at E3 2009, and then wait until after E3 2010 to put it on the market. By then, we'll all be playing with our Wii 2's and commuting to work in flying cars anyway.
My guess is the timing of the release depends on how Microsoft, internally, views the product. If they see 3D, camera-assisted gaming as the future for the Xbox, and plan to devote a lot of resources toward its integration into many of their products, it could take awhile, but if the camera is viewed more as an add-on gimmick than a main system component, it could be hitting shelves earlier. I guess it also depends on what stage the development is in. From what we've read, though, the 3DV camera set-up worked really well on PCs a year ago.
As for the price of the gadget, no one know that either, but the plan may well be to sell the unit separately at first, then bundle it with 360 sold in the future. What do you think? Care to make any guesses on when this technology will hit the market (if it's even real!)?