Friday, August 6, 2010

Move & Kinect: welcoming the others to motion controller

Here is the fact: Wii is selling like cookies. Here is the other fact: Xbox 360, despite of its giganticly huge marketing, and PS3, despite of its horsepower cell processor, are not. Considering the Wii is not that appropriate to my taste of gaming, I'm not happy with the current state :D Yes I am happy to see that innovation still beat marketing and tech, but if only either 360 or PS3 came up with motion controller.

Well now I can say I might be happy. In a few months, MS will go with Kinect and Sony with Move. Now before I tell you how is this going to change the world of gaming, let me first explain how both works. I took a course about it so i have the least idea about both tech.

Many say its eyetoy 2.0. Does it? Well it depends on how you define it.
its based on camera.. check,
it detects movement... check,
it cant be played with moving object as background... check,
it cant be played with low contrast environment... double check :D
So what is the different? Kinect use 2 camera. Whats for? To detect the depth of movement. Biology 101: human able to notice the depth of the object they saw by defining the difference between right eye and left eye.Technically, if you close one of your eyes, you cant notice the depth of an object (off course this is hard to simulate since the brain already process that depth information based on experience). This is how 3D tech works. The movies that you saw on 3D, that require you a 3D glasses, its all about right eye left eye. Kinect try to do this. And by doing this, Kinect able to 'predict' whats your body doing. Seems good enough, right?

The problem is, image processing is a very hard thing to do. Computers are lousy at it. While human, with its supercomplex processor called brain, can easily distinguish this. But why? Its because the brain has been trained to understand what we see from we were born. Sometimes, figuring out what you see is not just about seeing, but also understanding. Kinect dont have this experience. Although they might be able to simulate this process in the programming side, its really hard to do this. Thats why sometimes Kinect does not work properly. But again, I'm sure MS and its legion of programmers able to figure out how to 'tackle' this problem.

This one is called Wii 2.0. But is it?
Nunchuck... check
Wii-Mote alike... check
Buttons... check

But there are major significant different between WiiMote and Move. While Wii-Mote depends on Infrared signal, Move depends on camera. Wii-Mote sends Infrared to the receiver to figure out where are the controller. It also depends on Gyros to detect the orientation of the mote (horizontal, vertical, skew). Now if you've used Wii-Mote, you'll notice that its not precisely precise. Its not like you can point to something and boomm... got it. Its really hard to do precise movement in Wii. And also, it cant detect depth.

Now Sony has an 'idea': Lets use a camera instead to see the controller, and left use a sphere. The one billion dollar question is, why it should be a sphere? Isn't it coller to have a beveled skewed cube? Well believe it or not, the sphere is the only way to figure out the depth of the controller. Sphere, despite of your point of view, is the easiest (if not the only) shape to figure out how far it is. If its getting smaller its going further. If its getting bigger, its coming closer. Now why should it glow? Well the quick answer is so its easy to see. Unless your home is a house of small orb-shape lamp, Move will have no trouble to detect where is the controller. But it also a mean to differ the controller amongst each other. Imagine if you have two controller. The only way to figure out which one is yours and which one is your friends is by the color.

Honestly, unlike Kinect, there are not much complaint about this. Its perfecting the technology that already exist (Wii). While Kinect put Eyetoy to another step, Move only polish the Wii. My only let-down to PS Move is the price. Yes if you see an article about how cheap Kinect is compared to move, well its true. Move for a party games is expensive. But which one will actually works. We'll discuss this on the next episode of the article.

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