Razer and Sixense combine to form an actually compelling motion controller for PCs

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Razer and Sixense’s new motion controller is freakin awesome from CrunchGear on Vimeo.

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.

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