There has been a lot of hype for what Microsoft's (NASDAQ:
) next console (unofficially titled Xbox 720) will do for gaming.
Leaked documents suggested that the machine may come equipped
with the next evolution in motion-sensing technology, along with
some virtual reality elements that would take gaming to a whole
other level. Now Microsoft has introduced new technology that
could provide a real-world glimpse of what the next Xbox will
have to offer. In a video published on
, Microsoft's research department is showing off a prototype of
Digits, a new "wrist-worn 3D hand tracker for gestural
interactions on the move."
The device, which was made using only off-the-shelf hardware,
features a wrist-worn IR (infrared) camera, an IR laser line
generator, additional diffuse IR illumination and an inertial
measurement unit. When combined, these components allow users to
seamlessly and intuitively interact with objects without
physically touching them. They also allow for users to perform
remarkable actions without having to wear a glove.
In one example, the user could zoom semantically using in an
in-air pinch gesture. Other gestures allowed the user to move
around one or several virtual objects -- again without ever
touching a controller.
One of the more interesting concepts involved a radio. While
wearing Digits, the user could turn on a radio, change the
station and make other adjustments by flicking their fingers and
by performing simple gestures (ex: to adjust the volume, the user
pretended to turn a knob).
As impressive as that was, Microsoft saved the best feature
for last. In a video titled "Continuous 3D Interaction," the user
stood in front of a television screen, pointed their hand like a
gun and fired pellets at the screen. The interactions were smooth
and in real-time. To move around the environment, the user
performed a few grabbing motions and moved their arm. That latter
element was unusual and would not work in modern-day shooters,
such as Activision's (NASDAQ:
) Call of Duty or Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:
) Battlefield, but this is just one tech demo. Digits could be
adapted to work with a more conventional controller, or the games
could be tweaked to offer a better way to move around.
This might not even be made for Call of Duty; perhaps it will
be better suited for other kinds of games. Either way, the
potential for innovation is endless. And since it can
theoretically work with tablets, mobile gaming could be included
in this innovation. As a result, Microsoft could simultaneously
propel console and mobile gaming to another dimension.
Based on the tech demo (and the explanation of the parts
used), it sounds like this device could be ready for gamers
sooner rather than later. While it may not be fully operational
by the time Xbox 720 arrives (unconfirmed reports suggest that it
will ship in fall of 2013), it is important to remember that
sometimes innovation has to wait. The current Xbox shipped years
before Kinect. Digits could ultimately transform into a stellar
replacement for the motion-sensing device in the next few
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.