Nintendo Wii took the world by storm when it allowed gamers to freely swing a remote to wield a sword, or chip a golf ball onto a virtual green. But imagine a video game world where you needed no devices, no controllers. Wii, watch out.
Digital Journal -- Video game consoles like Nintendo Wii and games like Guitar Hero 3 have redefined gaming to make it physical, fun and incredibly addictive.
Other gaming companies are starting to take notice, and over the next year the industry will likely see incredible growth in this area. In an industry worth an estimated $30 billion, gaming companies are always looking for new ways to hook gamers to video game consoles. Now, an Israeli company might just be ahead of the interactivity curve with the launch of a new camera system that can read body movements.
This week, 3DV Systems based in Yokne'am, Israel launched the Zcam, a 3D camera for computers that can sense depth to track your body movement and input it into the game. Gamers no longer need to use a controller or wear a special device to control characters or action inside video games. Instead, if you move your hand, leg, head or finger in any direction, the company says its Zcam will detect the movements and use them to control in-game action.
For example, navigating menus on the game can be completed simply by moving your hands side to side. And because the camera senses depth, a gamer can play a boxing game and use his or her fists while ducking and moving to avoid opponent jabs. This can be done on Nintendo's Wii, but you have to hold two controllers to do it.
The movement-tracking technology was originally used in advanced defence systems, but the company found a way to re-work it and make it affordable to consumers.
An Israel-based company launched the Zcam that can track a gamer's movements in 3D without using a controller
“ZCam enables gamers, in a way never before possible, to interact intuitively and naturally with games,” Zvika Klier, CEO, 3DV Systems, said in a press release (opens in PDF). “We invite content developers to join us in creating a new innovative experience, and are very excited by the reaction of the developer community so far.”
The company says its technology has the potential to "radically change human-machine interfaces" thanks to its fine gesture recognition capabilities. The technology can also be adapted for automotive, robotics, computing and consumer electronics industries.
At time of launch, 3DV Systems says its initial focus for the ZCam is the PC and video game industry.
The ZCam records at 60 frames per second allowing it to capture a gamer's thumb or entire body motion and translate it into movement inside a game. The camera can also put a person's real-time image into the game and the company says the unit sucks very little CPU power so it will not drain or lag your system performance.
The company that makes the ZCam that tracks body movements for video games says its technology has the potential to "radically change human-machine interfaces."
Perhaps most interesting is the versatility of this unit, as the company says it boasts the highest resolution camera on the market that works independent of lighting conditions in a room. The Zcam is promised to work "flawlessly" in any room, day or night, bright or dark.
The camera has been in development for two and a half years and when it's ready for mass production in 2008, it will also come with a developer kit to allow software and gaming engineers to create their own games using the 3D camera. The company expects to ship the camera with a game for less than $100 in Q2 of '08.
Cameras for video game consoles are not a new idea, as both Sony and Microsoft have dabbled with the visual input technologies (Sony launched the EyeToy for PS2 and Microsoft introduced a Vision camera for Xbox 360). Neither were really revolutionary, as only three games incorporate the 360 camera.
However, if Nintendo's incredible success is any indicator of what people want in gaming, 3DV Systems will no doubt break into the market, hands down.