Five Technologies That Will Change the Future of Gaming

A handful of daringly creative teams have made it their mission to reinvent the way we'll view and play our games in the generations to come.

Nintendo took a big risk introducing the Wii's motion-based controls in 2006, but once word spread that Wii Sports was the best thing since sliced bread, sales of Nintendo's innovative hardware skyrocketed. The financial success of Nintendo's experiment inspired the likes of Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move, although neither was able to match the Wii's acceptance rate within the gaming and mainstream community. Nintendo followed up the Wii Remote with the Wii U's GamePad, and though it's too early to judge its success, the latest sales figures aren't pretty. To Nintendo's credit, it struck gold with the Wii, setting the bar for lucrative innovation incredibly high as a result.


Keep smiling, boys.

Everyone's seemingly squirming under the pressure to introduce the next great leap in interactivity, but a handful of engineers and developers have already made serious headway towards reinventing the way we'll play games in the years to come. Here are five of the most promising and revolutionary technologies that may one day find their way into our PCs, consoles, and mobile devices.

Leap Motion Controller

www.leapmotion.com

The Leap Motion Controller may share a few similarities with Microsoft's Kinect, but its form factor and approach to gesture controls are quite different. It's small, reasonably priced at $69.99 and designed to track minute finger or stylus movements at a threshold of .01 millimeters. Though the Kinect is capable of tracking your entire body, its strict lighting and relative-orientation requirements are a major turnoff for most customers, and in turn, developers. Leap Motion's tech eliminates these barriers, and while it may only capture hand/finger movements in its current form, that in itself is an invaluable capability rife with potential. Most Leap Motion demos take place at a desk in front of a PC monitor, but there's no reason the designers couldn't simply extend the cable or implement wireless functionality to adapt it to consoles and coffee tables.


Eye Tribe

www.theeyetribe.com

Eye Tribe's goal is to integrate hands-free controls into devices such as cell phones, tablets, and feasibly, gaming devices like the 3DS or Vita. While tracking retina movements isn't groundbreaking in itself, it has generally been too expensive for consumers and too large for manufacturers to embed in their products. Eye Tribe was more than happy to upend these notions at CES 2013, demoing its external and embedded retina-tracking solutions running on Windows 8 tablets. In the video above, CNET's Bridget Carey takes on Fruit Ninja, deftly slicing citrus and berry alike. Retina tracking may not be suitable for every type of game, but once the tech establishes itself as a must-have bullet point for hardware manufacturers, it's only a matter of time before we start to see new game types and mechanics designed around its unusual functionality.


InteraXon Muse

www.interAxon.com

We may never gain telekinetic powers in real life, but if InteraXon manages to deliver on its promises, we may be able to interact with software using our thoughts in the near future. The Muse, InteraXon's brain-wave-sensing headband, is leading the way for consumer-grade thought-controlled interfaces, which may one day find their way into the realm of gaming peripherals. Nintendo dabbled in biosensors with the Japanese-only Tetris 64, a Nintendo 64 game, but its pulse-sensing accessory failed to leave a mark and was left to wallow in obscurity. InteraXon's focus on brain-wave sensors expands the possibilities beyond passive heart-rate monitoring, allowing you to directly control software by focusing your thoughts. Beyond the example shown in the Zenbound demo, thought control will let people, especially those with physical disabilities, interact with software in ways many of us have never imagined.


Oculus Rift

www.oculusvr.com

Head-mounted displays have come and gone over the years, promising a future where virtual reality will actually be relevant outside of events like CES and the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The latest, Palmer Lucky's Oculus Rift, stands a better chance than most thanks to his experience researching and developing HMDs for the US military. At 110 degrees, the Rift totes the widest diagonal field of view for an HMD to date. Its accelerometers, gyroscopes, and pair of low-latency, stereoscopic 3D displays convincingly re-create your movements almost as fast as you can make them. With developer kits potentially shipping in late spring, the Rift may finally bring VR to the masses as soon as 2014.


Microsoft IllumiRoom

research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/illumiroom/

Microsoft quietly revealed a trailer for a new project during CES that maps the geography of your living room and projects games onto the surface of your walls and furniture surrounding your TV, mixing real and virtual environments in an entirely new way. Whether the IllumiRoom is simulating snow or extending your view of the battlefield, it will open new avenues of expression for developers and artists. The teaser video was created without the use of special effects, illustrating the already impressive capabilities of the WIP technology that may find itself bundled with your new Xbox in the near future.



Most of the above products are still a ways off from reaching the market, but if all goes to plan, the majority of them should be released during the next console generation. What's most interesting is that all but one are coming from private companies without ties to Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony. Can innovations in the PC space lure console owners away from their allegiances? Only time will tell, but if the Wii was any indication, new technologies can be unexpectedly lucrative and motivating when paired with the right software. Anyone up for a game of Oculus Sports?

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Discussion

249 comments
iAmristar
iAmristar

Nintendo's baby systems for adults who thinks like babies can now rekindle their baby memories with the most powerful Nintendo baby system ever. Now these people, who thinks like babies, are playing with power.

Shiotnobi
Shiotnobi

I think the flux capacitor is really going to revolutionize gaming.

redsiy
redsiy

These look awesome, anything to make my gaming experience cooler is always a good thing.

Nibraybirk
Nibraybirk

Anybody want to play my new seizure inducing system? All of these things have been in production for decades not because it can not be done but because nobody who is anybody wants them. I predict headaches and vision/mental problems with the majority of these.

porunga_namek
porunga_namek

The Rift and Leap look the most promising in my opinion. Everything else looks good as well, but I feel like will be harder to execute. Like the Illumiroom seems like a neat and really innovative concept, but lets see how well its executed before we can complain.

silentwalker77
silentwalker77

I like the idea of all of them but rift probally stands out the most for me gaming wise.  Its as close to VR as you can get with the tech we have today.  Though i am hoping to see true VR within at last 20 to 25 years before i get too old, lol. And by True VR i mean the VR that taps into your brain and lets you use your senses as if your in a real world.  Like your leaving your body and heading into a virtual world.  

prime_pm
prime_pm

The Muse thing would be pretty bad for me to use, seeing as I have ADD.  Only ten seconds in, I'll have thirty tabs open up, eight for TV Tropes, five for Cracked.

nanno111
nanno111

ij must waiting for VR i really want VR before i leave uni, but it better not have 3D vision i cant see in 3D (eyes are sh!% after car crash so cant watch 3D things)

bnarmz
bnarmz

I'm still waiting for the Holodeck to hit the market...

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

Some big promises there!

oOhedzOo
oOhedzOo

I think we should focus on how bad it will impact our health in the short and long run. I personally liked most of the ideas especially the Occult Rift, but wait a moment,  it involves 3D Vision? Most of us know the fact that 3D Vision is bad for health and children are not advised to use it.


I know some of you have a different opinion.

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

The illumiroom is the coolest thing ever. I love it, but I fear what it's connected to. A lot of talk about tighter security has me worried. RFID chips in game discs is bad enough, but MS has suggested using the Kinect or some kind of camera system to actually count the number of people watching your TV so as to turn off the content or charge more if the viewer limit is too high. That's just wrong. I don't care who you are, it's wrong. While companies may be creating some cool stuff, the coolness factor is only there to get you to buy it, far more nefarious purposes lie beneath the cool tech.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Most of ppl will not use any expennsive things and then coz of super small popularity no one will make games for these gadgets, if devs cant make something cheap, dont make it for gaming!

survivor9712
survivor9712

old gamers will stop gaming at some time. The current generation of games is fine as it is. Younger gamers will find it fascinating. Let it go.

kelborn3
kelborn3

If the Microsoft  room can become more realistice i would definetely buy it!!!!

d12malu
d12malu

I would buy the Microsoft IllumiRoom on Day 1

NightLord47
NightLord47

No matter what, nothing will ever be as reliable and accurate as a button and a thumb-stick.

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

all of these things are just gimmicks. They are cool for about 5 minutes and thats it. Why cant we just get some cool games with great story, controls and graphics and just call it a day?

Kyrylo
Kyrylo

*sigh* where are the times we could have sit and enjoy on couch instead of paying thousands of bucks for some gimmicks that are breaking after 4 months of usage. 

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

Rift looks awsome, but i guess unless u have bottomless pockets only the wealthy will be able to spends loads on this sorta stuff.

alexini23
alexini23

Fantastic Technologies...B)

Looks like the lazy future is coming soon... :)

bmart970
bmart970

The IllumiRoom looks like it could be cool, but I don't have space or money for such a thing. I bet in 10 years the new thing will be "Back To Basics" with just controllers.

emarati999
emarati999

woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow some of the  Technologies is really coooooooooooool god i want most of them but the Eye Tribe not sure i hated it i mean that is wroung for the eye but the rest if i can buy the i will for sure

Freboy
Freboy

If I could pick one of these, it would be the OR. Playing a Bioshock game in VR would be... oh my...

Davimus518
Davimus518

Was it me or did that one guy in the Oculus Rift video look like Kevin Bacon?

Kaeban
Kaeban

The Oculus Rift seems amazing. They´ve got the support from the developers already, which is even better, I can see this coming to life and not getting stuck as just a "project" or someone´s ambition. I also like the Ilumiroom, only con there is that you would always have to play in a dark room, don´t know, just thought about it. Well, maybe this will encourage some gamers to go outside during day time and take some fresh air...or not.

TruSake
TruSake

Back to the Future is an awesome movie

jonb4play
jonb4play

cant wait to see what the next generation unveils.

Metal_Gear_LR
Metal_Gear_LR

all those seem really cool but I think what hit or misses will depend on the masses and what they like in gaming, that eye thing for example sounds like it will be a large strain your eyes, I get it bad enough for my late gaming I end up with red cracked sore eyes, probably from lack of blinking lol I can only imagine the strain this could give me but on a lighter note, the eye motion controls could hand the gaming over to handicapped players who normally cant move, bringing us a new family of gamers to the scene

Marshal-Law
Marshal-Law

The Leap Motion Controller and Eye Tribe completely blew my mind, did u see the lady playing fruit ninja with her eyes? wow!

Just when you think there is nothing new to think of, someone comes out with something crazy. Wonder why I couldn't have thought of that myself. 


hugoadan
hugoadan

cool stuff! very impressive indeed...

MkFilipe
MkFilipe

@oOhedzOo From the Oculus Rift FAQ: 

"The Rift is causes very little eye strain, particularly compared to other standard displays or headmounts. 

Normally, when you take a break from using a monitor or TV, the idea is to give your eyes a chance to focus and converge on a distance plane. This is a natural position of rest for your eyes. 

With the Rift, your eyes are actually focused and converged in the distance at all times. It's a pretty neat optical feature, for sure."

MegamanX97
MegamanX97

Anything in moderation. Just like anything else. Too much of anything is bad for your health.

elite22
elite22

@alexini23 umm not sure if you've looked around at the world today. it's more like the lazy present. I think what you mean is the "lazier future"


MegamanX97
MegamanX97

Put it in another area that isn't the living room? I know most people game in the living room, but you can always close blinds... or work in the day/school in the day and enjoy it at night? There will be options other than "instant fail"