3D Motion Control Games Coming to any Webcam Near You
Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have all incorporated motion control gaming into their systems and solidified it as an industry standard. However, this technology has had virtually no presence outside of console-gaming.
Extreme Reality hopes to change that. This Israeli-based technology company has created a program called Extreme Motion that “[enables] any consumer electronics device with a standard 2D camera to become a full-body motion controlled gaming system,” according to their website.
And they really do mean any device. PC’s, TV’s, tablets, smart phones – anything with a webcam can become a comparable alternative to the popular Xbox Kinect.
According to the Extreme Reality website, “Extreme Motion…extracts the 3D position of the user in front of the camera in every frame and creates a live 3D model of the user in real time.” It tracks player joints to recognize body positions and movements automatically. The addition of hand gesture tracking lets the player drag items, open and close documents, and click icons just like a traditional mouse.
Though so far many of the games released have been by indie developers, SEGA recently used it in its iOS game “GO DANCE.” Additionally, popular games such as “ProRiders” by vTree Entertainment have been converted from their original formats to work with the software.
The gaming industry is not the only place where Extreme Reality has made waves. Dor Givon, co-founder of the company, stated that the software “can analyze skeletal data and generate a unique biometric signature, so it will recognize an individual when they want to log into a device,” making the program a leap in biometric recognition technology. The company is also researching how to apply Extreme Motion to augmented reality experiences and wearable devices.
This month, Extreme Reality launched its free Software Development Kit, or SDK, allowing developers to start using the software to create their games. The company is also sponsoring a competition dubbed the Extreme iPad Challenge with a cash prize of ten thousand dollars to entice developers to create games with Extreme Motion for the iPad device.
Joshua Cruz, president of ODU’s Video Game Design and Development Club, shared his views on this new technology for computers and phones.
While Cruz admitted that he and his fellow student game developers have actively discussed how to include motion capture in future projects, he lamented that the “the technology so far has been so costly that it’s unrealistic.” He listed examples he has seen of developers struggling to work with a wide range of onerous and costly equipment, from 3D cameras, to green screens, to the unintentionally hilarious full-body suits with rubber balls attached at key motion capture points.
Cruz even described how many developers have gone so far as to dissect their existing Xbox Kinect devices to hook them up to their computers. And even then, most indie developers do not have the manpower to make their games as polished as those of larger companies.
He hopes that with developments like the Extreme Motion SDK, the gap between indie and big-name developers will be bridged. “But it all depends on how indie developers use [the technology]… If they find a way to provide a unique experience with the hardware, then there’s a lot of room for indie developers to become bigger in the community.”
Above all, Cruz emphasized that he would want the industry to avoid the gimmicky nature that plagues motion gaming in the market today.
Up till now many of the existing games made with Extreme Motion follow this pattern, but Extreme Reality’s SDK release has opened the playing field for a new wave of developers dipping their feet into designing motion control gaming. And, as Cruz said, the only limit of content is the developer’s own creativity.
By Alyse Stanley