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October 11, 2012 at 8:50 AMComments: 4 Faves: 0

Death of a Legend

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

Microsoft recently released some specs and a brief look at their newest venture into the motion control era...Digits.

Basic Rundown: Digits uses infra-red sensors to capture hand movement and gestures. Obviously the engineering is far more complex than this, but you get the jist of it.

Possible Implications: Digits represents a massive overhaul of how we interact with our digital technologies. No longer would the keyboard and mouse play an intricate role in how you interface with your desktop. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, all would become an extension of your movement, not just a destination. Gaming would follow the same path, essentially removing peripheral controllers and making your body the ultimate controller.

A Bright New Age

The largest implication though, is the death of the keyboard and mouse. Both have been a staple in the desktop industry since inception. There have been there for every box opening, every quick movement in WoW, and every 4 hour YouTube zoneout. They have been present for so long that they have become a bit of a redundancy, much like the landline.

So, the question is, are we ready to cast aside tradition and move on? I don't think the answer can be found simply.

deathWe have proven, time and again, that we are pretty resistant to change. This is why marketing schemes begin years before product release, to assuage the instant recoil people have when life-altering tech is introduced. That being said, our culture has come a long way from the duldrums of the digital technological supremacy that was the 80's. But still, removing the keyboard and mouse involves the one thing that makes us scream in terror...effort.

By removing the dynamic duo and introducing motion control to all our digital activities, two major things are being asked of us:

1.) Move

2.) Take a chance at making a fool of yourself while learning how to use the tech.

Traditionally, modern society does not react very well to these requests. I was working at a game shop when the Kinect was released and I saw the excitement of new tech turn to disdain once people realized they needed to move in order to participate.

Now, I can already hear the screams, "But EM, we heard the Kinect was extremely successful!"

Yes, I heard this as well...from Microsoft (same as hearing over 100,000 units of Mysts of death2Pandaria sold from Blizzard, when the real count is around 67,000). Truth be told, the Kinect has found success in a process similar to the Wii.

"You can lose weight by using this."

"Get your kids off the couch with this."

"Create a family experience with this."

AND FINALLY

"Use your voice with this."

That's right folks, Kinect is popular now because they relented. They figured out, much like Nintendo did, that gamers hate jenky motion controllers and they will always find a way to cheat the system. Hell, a coworker of mine could bowl a 300 in Wii Bowling with the flick of his wrist while sippin' on a Monster and carrying on a conversation.

The current iteration of motion control is a facade, a ploy to lure in a demographic once thought unreachable to developers...parents. And it worked!

I get the feeling that the first generations of full-scale motion controls will follow the same path; constant change and compromise until, 5 years in, we finally see a product worthy of the masses.

What do you think?

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4 Comments

  • I think that motion controlled computing would be amazing! I can't even imagine what video editing would be like, it would feel so much more authentic, like you created that video with your bare hands!

    And I give crazy mad props to someone that can drink monster, carry on a conversation and play wii bowling while remembering to breathe. Madness I tell you :P

  • My thoughts.... hmm.. I would like to think that since it has been almost 6 years since Wii came out, and almost 2 years since Kinect came out.... I would like to think that the 5 years are up. Is it too much to ask that the creators of a gaming system actually work forward toward something new? It seems like they could have taken the idea and expanded on it. Alright... here's my idea. I think it is time for true motion capture suits. There, I said it. I think that if you made it look cool that it would be the next raging thing. It would actually work without all of the painful jenkiness of it trying to read your body. I want real movement...REAL... movement. I want to have to have a sheathed sword on my side because when I just fake the motion my character can't draw it. But true virtual reality... When you keep the pointed side of your blade out. When you are forced to parry, and thrust, and dodge, because without your movement your character just stands there. That would be awesome.

    Alright, I'm ranting. But can you imagine the amount of new gamers you would have? I know I have friends that even though sitting there playing games is completely against their grain, if you could suit up and fight each other from across the room, (The Island style), they would be on board with that huge! I dunno. I like that this is where they are heading , I just want to have it be right... now! My thoughts.

  • If we're going the full suit, I want to have the option for real reality. Pressure plates that beat you up a little when you take a hit fighting off that horde of orcs. How about a built in shocking mechanism that burns a little when you're hit by an arrow or stabbed with a sword? Say you get your right arm cut off in a lightsaber duel? Maybe the suit should go totally unresponsive until you get a prosthetic, then it feels heavy and kind of dead?

    OK. Doesn't all have to be hack and slash. When you ground your club you'll get a shock up your forearm, much like the hurt of actually grounding a club on a bad swing. Maybe the suit could have heat and cold emitters? Rescuing the princess from certain death in a boiling cauldron of lava? You better be sweating your proverbial anus off.

    Yeah, I want it all, and I want it now.

  • I dig all the ideas gentleman and I have one answer for you:

    Check out Sony's new Augmented Reality tech, it will blow your mind.

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