Posted by Braxton Colongione on Apr 5, 2011

Under the Hood of Kinect, Wii, and PS3 Move

Back in November of 2006, the Nintendo Wii was released and changed the face if gaming forever. Since then, the Xbox 360 Kinect and Playstation 3 Move have hit the market in a hot pursuit of the Wii and its new way to game. These new motion games are almost that of science fiction; Not only in concept but, in what makes them work as well.

Let’s start with the Wii first. The Wii uses a combination of Bluetooth, Infrared, and accelerometers to sense the location and orientation of the Wii remote. The Sensor bar that sits on top or below your TV is basically an infrared light emitter (this why if you don’t have your sensor bar two candles spaced 4-5 inches apart will work). The sensor bar uses the IR signal to determine the location in 3D space and the 3 axis accelerometer to determine movement and orientation of the Wii remote. Then, the Bluetooth radio is utilized to send the information back to the Wii console. Not too fancy but, it gets the job done.

When Microsoft released the Kinect in 2010, they basically did what Nintendo did in 2006 – change the way we game… again. The Kinect, like the Wii, was to an extent the first of its kind. The first to offer controllerless gaming. The Kinect uses an array of cameras, sensors and microphones to watch, track, and hear the players’ every move and sound, then relay it to an avatar on screen. Inside that vertical bar are two infrared 3D depth sensors, an RGB camera, and two multi-array microphones all of which work simultaneously to pay close attention to everything going on in the room. The microphones have the ability to dampen some sounds and amplify others. While the camera and sensors read everything from leg movements to facial expressions. Sounds pretty simple, which, compared to the Move system, it almost is.

Now, for the Playstation Move. When I first saw it, I thought it looked like Sony had just remade the Wii, which, in essence, they did. However, they made it work in a more complex way. The Playstation Move works by utilizing a camera system like the Kinect, as well as Bluetooth like the Wii, and in the controller, a RGB LED system which is able to illuminate in just about any color. However, the color is not at random. Instead, it is selected by the Playstation eye to differ from all other colors in the playing environment. The colored sphere is then used as an active marker much in the same way as the IR LED’s in the Wii sensor bar are used. The Move motion controller uses a 3 axis linear accelerometer, 3 axis rate sensor to track rotation and overall motion, there is also a magnetometer to calibrate the controllers orientation to the earth’s magnetic field, which helps prevent drift by the inertial sensors (inertial sensors are used to track the controller when its obscured from the eyes/cameras view.)  From a technical aspect, the Move is, in a sort, a combination of the Wii and Kinect systems, just with a more complex way of operating.

If you stop and think about It, motion gaming is only in its infant stages. It could even be compared to the model A Ford. And with how fast things progress in the world of tech, I estimate motion gaming will be in Lamborghini territory within ten to fifteen years (if that).

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