Sony hire suggests PS4 motion control plans

Sony could be planning motion controls for its upcoming PS4 console, if the hiring of Kinect expert George Andreas from Microsoft Game Studios is any indication

31 Jan 2013
Sony PS3 Slim

Sony's PS4 console, codenamed Orbis, may be getting motion controls similar to that of the Kinect platform used on rival Microsoft's Xbox 360 and upcoming Xbox 720 console.

Sony, which was one of the first console companies to get into the motion controlled gaming market with the release of its camera-based EyeToy for the PlayStation 2 in 2003, has telegraphed its intention to take controller-free gaming to the next level with the hiring of George Andreas from Microsoft, where he previously worked on the Kinect sensor project.

Andreas has plenty of experience in the gaming market: formerly creative director at veteran game developmers Rare, he has worked at the Rare-branded section of Microsoft Game Studios following its acquisition where he oversaw the development of Kinect-powered game titles. While the Kinect sensor hasn't been a stellar success for the company, it is thought to form a major part of Microsoft's next-generation Xbox 720 console platform.

It will have to do so without Andreas, however: Sony has confirmed that Andreas is to start immediately at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) as creative director, opening the possibility that Sony is hoping to improve its EyeToy platform for a relaunch alongside its next-generation PlayStation 4 console.

While EyeToy was impressive for its time, the system had a number of flaws: unlike Kinect, the EyeToy camera - a simple low-resolution webcam built for Sony by Logitech - was unable to sense depth, relying instead on the contrast between the user and the background. Those in dimly-lit rooms, or with a dark-coloured wall behind them, would find the EyeToy unable to accurately track them - and even when it worked, the system was restricted to tracking large movements such as the location of palm-open hands or how the entire body is leaning from side to side.

Since EyeToy, Sony has upgraded its motion control platform with the PlayStation Move pack for the PlayStation 3. Adding a pair of controllers inspired by the Nintendo Wii's Wiimote and Nunchuck, plus a glowing light at the tip which can be easily tracked by the camera, Sony has been able to improve the accuracy of the system considerably - but still lags behind that of the completely controller-free Kinect platform.

Sony's decision to hire Andreas away from Microsoft suggests that the company is hoping to improve PlayStation Move still further, possibly as part of its next-generation PlayStation 4 console which is rumoured to be launching later this year. For now, however, Sony is remaining tight-lipped on its plans for Andreas.

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