Motion controllers are widely available for gaming and offer a unique experience where body movements serve as commands while in game.
What Does “Using Your Body as a Controller” Mean?
When people refer to using your “body as a controller” what they’re talking about is a motion tracking device that senses the movements of your body and interprets those movements as commands in a video game.
There are many different kinds of motion tracking devices, some newer than others, and all of them use a combination of sensors to track the movement of a gamer. This input serves as commands that tell a gaming console or computer what you would like to do in your game.
The games themselves are also set up to accept this input and respond accordingly. Not every game can be played with a motion sensing controller, but many consoles are already compatible and have been for some time.
Do Gamers Like Motion Sensing Controllers?
Motion controllers for gamers playing consumer games may not be as popular as bigger firms like Sony and Microsoft hoped, but commercial companies have picked up on the technology and now use it for a variety of commercial applications related to aviation, automation, research, and industrial environments.
There are a few reasons that motion controllers didn’t take off as anticipated with the traditional gaming audience. The first reason is the cost of the motion controller which is in addition to the cost of needing a video game console or PC that can play the games. For some gamers, the cost was too much, and they skipped the extra cost of the motion controller.
The second reason that motion controllers didn’t become more popular is that the early versions were slightly ahead of their time and the technology needed to make them work flawlessly simply did not work well. Many gamers became impatient and grew tired of having to troubleshoot motion controllers, while others lost interest and reverted back to normal controllers.
One other reason that motion controllers didn’t become super popular was the lack of compatibility with popular games. Not all motion controllers are compatible with all games and gamers became frustrated at having to shift from one controller to the other whenever they wanted to play different games.
Overall if the motion controllers were more versatile and worked for most games that their target audience wanted to play, they probably would have thrived and may have even replaced conventional controllers. However, the limitations on their compatibility coupled with their less than perfect performance were too much for large portions of the gaming community.
The Wii Remote Changes the Game for Controllers
Many people will be familiar with the Wii controller and how that revolutionized the controller industry and created a rush of gamers looking to get their hands on a Wii console. Commonly referred to as the “Wiimote,” Nintendo released the Wii Remote in 2006 and the motion sensing capabilities blew gamers away.
Users could now use the remote to manipulate items and situations on screen by using gestures and pointing. The remote uses a combination of sensors including an accelerometer and other optical sensors.
The Wii remote was also unique in that it was expandable through the use of other attachments that could couple with the remote to create a modified remote with greater capabilities. The main reason Wii remote still gets so much attention is due to the unique features that set it apart from other gaming controllers.
How Is a Body Control Module Programmed?
Control module programming for these kinds of devices can be tricky, and several big brands have struggled over the years to improve the responsiveness and accuracy of their product. The motion control device registers input from your body movements which are interpreted as a command in the game.
Unfortunately, the recognition of the human body by the controller is not flawless, and abrupt movements may not be picked up quickly. Improvements in the programming have helped these controllers recognize movements better, however, the number of movements they must learn to recognize is staggering.
Different motion controllers will require different software that will take up space on your console or PC and is needed for the controller to work. Frequently, companies have opened up their products and released developer kits so that individuals outside the company can make and release improvements to their products that the whole community can enjoy.
Brands like Microsoft and Sony frequently release updates for their products to improve performance, add features, and help create a better experience for gamers. As their programming improves for these motion controllers, the gamer’s experience improves as well.
Kinect is a series of motion sensing devices that take input from movement and use it to control function on a user’s console or computer. It was produced by Microsoft for the Xbox 360, Microsoft PC’s and also the Xbox One console.
Originally, the Kinect was meant to help open up the audience for the Xbox 360 and expand it beyond the typical user base. The windows version was released in 2012 and with the Kinect 2.0 release in 2013, the Xbox One was included as well.
Kinect was under the codename Project Natal when it was announced at a conference in 2009. The several years of development were needed for additional programming to enhance the tracking of the human body.
There were rumors that the release of the Kinect would coincide with a major redesign for the Xbox 360, or at the very least a hardware update. However, Microsoft denied these rumors and assured fans that the Kinect would be compatible with their existing Xbox 360 consoles.
Zed is a slightly lesser known motion-sensing camera that was set to ship out to consumers in December 2017. Although there’s not much media hype yet, this 4MP camera that captures 1080p video at 30 frames per second offers cutting-edge technology to gamers looking for a motion tracking control device to upgrade their gaming setup.
The Zed is tiny at only 6.89 inches across and just over an inch high. It can do 3D video capture and has excellent spatial mapping and positional tracking. Its depth range is 2.3 to 65 feet and comes with a wide-angle lens to reduce distortion.
It gets power via USB and has a USB 3.0 port as well. Its compatible with both Windows and Linux and weighs just over a third of a pound.
Orbbec is an interesting company that understood the limitations of trying to create a “one size fits all” motion controller and instead decided to specialize and offers three separate products that cater more specifically to a specialized set of needs.
All of their products are geared mostly towards creative businesses that would make great use of gestures as a form of commands. A good example is a 3D app developer or other coders that wish to see a preview of their product before hashing out the finer details.
The Persee is the first camera-computer and Orbbec has put considerable thought into making this device suitable for even the most demanding users. Its low cost and versatility make it an easy purchase and its ability to plug into an existing TV or monitor is an added bonus.
It can run without a display if need be and users can still interact with it using the Astra Pro 3D camera. The Persee can see users, hear them, and has an uncanny ability to understand them as well.
The Persee is undoubtedly more powerful than a regular computer and users wishing to use it outside of a business application can also use it to connect to their TV at home as you would a normal computer for gaming, video, and web searches. It can also help you automate your home with light, music, and appliance control.
Persee can see in the dark, and can also scan objects for use in making 3D prints. In industrial applications, it can be strapped to a robot or can serve as a useful tool for researchers or interactive artists.
Orbbec Astra, Astra S and Astra Pro
Orbbec did a great job creating the Astra as a standalone 3D camera with great resolution and a small size. Each version of this product excels at a different niche such as superior depth and speed, short-range vision, and small size.
Regardless of which model you choose you’ll get the pleasure of experiencing the beautifully designed compatibility of the Astra with other devices and applications. There are several open applications users can enjoy as well as pre-existing apps.
Several companies are already using the Astra line and have proven that they truly are versatile in a range of applications such as robotics, 3D scans, cloud development, and gesture control heavy scenarios.
Orbbec Astra Mini and Astra Mini S
The Astra Mini is an interesting design from Orbbec in the sense that it is so incredibly tiny, but still packs so many features and power. It utilizes their renowned 3D depth resolution and a 3D microchip that allows it to function with great accuracy.
The Astra Mini is perfect for use in offices, museums, hospitals, classrooms, research labs, and anywhere else that space may be at a premium but performance cannot be sacrificed. It offers the same great compatibility as Orbbec’s other devices but has a shorter tracking range that is better suited to smaller spaces.
At one meter, the accuracy of this device is plus or minus 1-3mm which is incredibly impressive compared to the range available on other gaming-oriented devices. The Astra Mini is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Android.