Gamepad - How It Works (Part 3) - Inside Kinect of Microsoft

5/25/2012 5:56:14 PM

The extraordinary control

Technologies we have considered so far are the basis for most of controllers till the last decade. During this time, manufacturers started to introduce more advanced and strange equipments. As the game controller was best played with the wheel, new game genes needed their own controllers. Dance games like Dance Dance Revolution came with pressure mattess to detect jumps and Beatmania series was best played with a keyboard and extra which could rotate, while Steel Battalion went with a unique dual joystick and a controller with 40 buttons and foot pedal. After that, Guitar Hero and Rock Band created an abnormal type of joystick and the button layout was designed to imitate the design of instruments.

Description: PlayStation 2

PlayStation 2

All of them worked by using switches and the mechanism similar to controllers before them, but enthusiastic players early accumulated a number of awdward controllers. While they were very interesting, everything began to change with the launch of EyeToy of Sony in 2003. Though it was not the first webcam for a game console, EyeToy was originally developed as a interface for new users, which would realize movements by players without any controllers they held.

EyeToy itself was quite simple, designed to work under indoor light condition, but PlayStation 2 could execute gesture detection on its video signals. By providing another option for joysticks, EyeToy is the ancestor of mostly complex systems nowadays, such as Xbox Kinect.

Not long after EyeToy appeared, handheld controllers have started to become more sophisticated. In 2005, Nintendo announced that upcoming Wii handhell controller would include motion sensors, Wii Remote. “This Wiimote” composed of an accelerometer can measure acceleration in three axes, so it would recognize movements. Being built with a small ratio on a single chip, the accelerometer had 3 weights arranged along perpendicular axes, and each weight was suspended between two springs. When the controller was about to increase the spead, inertia of weights make one or more weights move, compress and expand springs holding it. The distance each weight moved let the controller know the strength and direction of acceleration.

Raise barriers

Description: Xbox 360

Xbox 360

Wiimote had a skill to distinguish it from temporary movement detection controllers like Sixaxis and Sony. Wii came with a bar located on or oder the TV and had 3 infrared LEDs at each end. Using an image sensor, Wii recognized the distance clearly between LEDs and use triangulation to calculate its distance to the screen. By measuring the relative angle and position of LEDs, Wiimote could calculate the direction of the screen correctly to be used as a cursor in games.

The ability of Wiimote was a calculated effort by Nintendo to provide support for new games which will appeal to a wider audience range. They helped to improve normal and family game playing through this handheld system and it was a part of the reason why Wii was sold better than PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. While Xbox 360 was 6 year old already, the appearance of Kinect helped to prolong its life, with the alternative product which was not lauched before 2012 as people said. This new joystick will be certainly stronger than its senior but there may be an improved version of Kincect, as well as a good old-fashioned joystick.

Don’t look at the hand

Inside Kinect of Microsoft

Description: Inside Kinect of Microsoft

It is not the first webcam for game controllers, but Kinect of Microsoft is the most popular – sold 8 million units in the first 60 days. Kinect uses 3 key technologies combined to enable it to detect voice, face and movement. Voices are recorded by 4 microphones. By comparing time which a sound comes to each microphone, Kinect can calculate the angle at which it comes.

Kinect records normal videos by using a color camera in the front panel, but there is an additional system to draw the exact distance outline of objects in the room. Infrared LEDs is projected through the filter to create a mapping of light points, which is collected by an infrared camera (1). Kinect knows how light mapping looks like if it lies in the plane, so Kinect will compare what it “sees” to find the distortion caused by objects in many different depths.

Kinect processes outputs from video and depth systems, and (2) provides Xbox with color videos and depth mapping of the room. Software runs on the console to analyze it to identify objects, faces and actions.

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