Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Microvision: Partners with Intel to Showcase Advances in PC Gaming Technology (Part 4)

Looks like Ben Averch is back in Seattle after spending the last week in Edmonton, the second coldest city on Earth (Siberia being the first).

This is what he had to say...

“It was a thrill to be able to demonstrate our new gaming technology for the very first time to hundreds of gamers as well as many just plain curious folks. Two MVIS reps (myself and weapon master Andrew Rosen) + about 800 demos over 3 days = exhaustion! But, I’m happy to say that the response we got was tremendous, the Intel folks were terrific, and a lot of fun was had by all (as you can see from the picture!).”

Here’s the link to the picture in question...
http://www.microvision.com/displayground/?p=1291#respond

What’s more ineresting are the reviews...

Microvision’s Super Gun
December 15, 2009 by Adam R.

This past Friday it was my job to play press monkey for the Intel sponsored ESL North American Championship, and ironically, the most exciting story didn’t seem to be the gaming itself, but the tech demo from Microvision which just so happened to be making it’s worldwide debut to the public.

What Microvision specializes in, firstly, is portable video projectors. What separates Microvision’s own SHOW WX against other models, is that it uses laser lights, allowing for the most vivid colour and contrast available thus far in the pico projector market. The SHOW WX projects in a widescreen format with a resolution of 848×480 with a 60Hz refresh rate. While it isn’t a perfect solution for replacing your home HD TV, it very well could be in the years to come.

A pico projector is exciting, especially if you happen to be a gadget nut, but the reason Microvision is causing a buzz in the tech market right now is because of their recent teamwork with Intel.

This is a gaming website, and as such, your first instinct should have been “How well does this play games?” Well, I can honestly tell you that it is nothing like you imagined. Because of the money and technology afforded to them by their partnership with Intel, Microvision is attempting to take PC gaming to the next level by possibly creating a platform to rival Microsoft’s own interactive gaming environment, with Project Natal.

Running on a superpowered Intel i7 PC, was Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, developed and published by Codemasters. The interesting thing though, was that the demonstrator was not playing with a keyboard, nor a joypad. He was using a big, heavy gun, outfitted internally with accelerometers and other various do-dad’s one would expect to find in an iPod Touch or iPhone, plus one of their SHOW WX devices mounted where the targeting reticule would normally be positioned.

What the demo showed us was future-tech that Microvision and Intel are trying frantically to bring home to the consumer: the ultimate in gaming interactivity.

If you moved the gun left, your character could move his head left in the same fashion he would if controlled by a mouse or analog stick; the key difference being that the screen you were facing would also move, of course, because of the projector strapped on to it. So as your gun moves, so does the projection, as well as the camera angle/field of view in-game. While difficult to describe positively in written word, it isn’t as annoying as it sounds, and if anything, if several tweaks are made to the service, could easily be the most realistic way to play games from here on out.

What Microvision is trying to accomplish, is an entirely immersive experience. Through the use of, and the PR person stressed, superior software to what is available in Nintendo Wii and in the iPhone, gamers will be able to command total control via a highly precise natural evolution in hardware. While the iPhone’s accelerometer software suffers from a slow processor and a cramped living compartment, Microvision’s prototype hardware is concealed in a large, life-sized assault rifle powered by what you would find in your average high-end gaming computer. That is a large boost of power compared to what either of the nearest competitors are able to do so far.

You’ll want to play games standing up. Crouching and jumping were, as of this demo, mapped to buttons, but ideally, you’d assume Microvision would want to map them to motions involved with the accelerometers. You duck in real life, the character you’re playing as does the same thing.

For walking back and fourth there were two highly responsive buttons placed below the rifle’s barrel. While this placement seemed satisfactory, the rep admitted that they were trying to improve this attribute somehow.

Official Microvision Video [Link]

The device was currently wired to the PC running the game, but it was suggested that wireless was going to be a feature added later.

For all intents and purposes, I think the PC gaming world has every right to be excited about this device and the future capabilities it may bring to the fold. While obviously marketed to a hardcore and niche market, let’s face it; that is exactly what PC gaming is all about these days. I am excited about what Project Natal might end up bringing to the table for first person shooters, but honestly, this tech demo left me drooling.

*****
Here’s the link to Critical Gamer’s review...
http://www.criticalgamer.co.uk/2009/12/15/microvisions-super-gun/

What got me excited was the refrence to Microsoft “Project Natel” in the comments made by the Critical Gamer’s Review...

“…Microvision is attempting to take PC gaming to the next level by possibly creating a platform to rival Microsoft’s own interactive gaming environment, with Project Natal.”

My first reaction was: “Why create a platform to rival Microsoft... join them to make Project Natal a true hands free control and interactivity reality by incorporating the laser scanner/projection features of the Microvision’s PicoP display engine.”

Here’s some information on Project Natel...

Project Natal is the code name for a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Based on an add-on periheral for the Xbox 360 console, Project Natal enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller through a natural user interface using gestures, spoken commands or presented objects and images. The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360's audience beyond its typically harcore base. Project Natal was first announced on June 1, 2009. Microsoft said that over a thousand software development kits began shipping to game developers that same day.

Though Microsoft has not officially announced any price or release date projections for Project Natal, it is expected to be released in late 2010. Project Natal will reportedly also serve as the basis for a "new" Xbox 360.

In closing I must re-state the comments from Critical Gamer’s review...

“For all intents and purposes, I think the PC gaming world has every right to be excited about this device and the future capabilities it may bring to the fold. While obviously marketed to a hardcore and niche market, let’s face it; that is exactly what PC gaming is all about these days. I am excited about what Project Natal might end up bringing to the table for first person shooters, but honestly, this tech demo left me drooling.”

Here’s the napkin bud... drooling not allowed while reading this post!

Anant Goel
http://www.wealthbyoptions.com/