The motion controller revolution is well underway. It was kicked off by the EyeToy and Wii, and will continue with Project Natal and the Sony wand. But to be honest, I haven’t seen a technology I would trust to swing a sword with until today. Razer is working with a company called Sixense to create a motion controller that works on a principle of magnetic interference instead of accelerometers or cameras, creating a true 1:1 relation between what you do in real life and what appears on the screen. It sounded like a “me too” move to me until I saw them show it off.
Check out the video. I got a more extensive demo from another guy and commentary by Razer’s founder Robert Krakoff. It’s still a brand new technology, and Razer hasn’t set their hand to it yet, instead making sure they can make it a useful device. And I think they will. The 1:1 representation really is very, very accurate, and unlike all the other motion controllers on or off the market, it doesn’t rely at all on line of sight.
The technology uses a magnetic field generated at a certain… frequency, for lack of a better term, which detects the controllers in such a way as their absolute position and orientation can be determined instantaneously. In practice, at least at the moment, there is a lag of about 40 milliseconds and the precision is about 1 mm for position and 1 degree for orientation. That really depends on the RF technology, which Razer spent a lot of time perfecting for the Mamba but has yet to implement in the motion controller. So we’ll see that get a bit better, and of course the controllers themselves will have the usual Razer style.
I’m really, really looking forward to checking these out in a non-trade-show environment. The fact that they’re partnering with Valve means I’ll be able to play some of my favorite games early on, and I think once others see how it’s implemented (seems pretty straightforward, from what Robert told me), we’ll get more mods as well.