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ball-it

Finnish startup throws small ball at gaming console giants (video)

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Yours truly was in Finland most of last week, visiting a bunch of technology startups at their offices, paying a visit to Nokia’s research center and attending the great MindTrek conference (thanks again for organizing the tour, FinnFacts).

One of the items in the packed schedule was a visit to the Demola facilities, essentially a type of incubator where students from the three universities in the city of Tampere and beyond can come work on projects in an ‘open innovation environment’.

One of the demos there that made a lasting impression on me – and the other bloggers who were invited to the tour – came from startup Ball-it. The fledgling company markets a golfball-sized device that is able to interact with your computer, TV or mobile phone thanks to physical wireless sensing technology that was popularized in large part by the Nintendo Wii gaming console. The technology has been under development for quite a while; tech blog Venturebeat profiled Ball-it about 10 months ago.

As a game controller, the little ball makes most sense to me. Since it detects things like rotation, direction movements, squeezing, tapping and reaction speed, there are loads of gestures that you can make wielding the ball trigger an on-screen activity, as you can see in the video(s) below. I only tried it for two of the games that have been developed for the device so far, but it was intuitive enough for me to get the hang of what I was supposed to do in just a few seconds. It was also loads of fun.

I specifically liked the fact that you can place the ball in your pants pockets, after which the device will be able to detect your running speed, how high you jump, and more to control elements of basic sports games. Besides doubling as a pedometer, it also measures how many calories you burn so you can use to improve your fitness, too.

Ball-it aims to be able to distribute the device in the near future for 15 or 16 euros (approx. $22) the price of an average PC game and actually includes six basic PC games in the same box. Additional games can be purchased from the company’s web shop, which it evidently refers to as an app store.

Also check out the review and video over on ChipChick.com.

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