Today, America's most widely read financial daily may have spoiled one of Microsoft's big surprises at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. This afternoon, The Wall Street Journal posted an article sourcing "people familiar with the matter" as saying Microsoft "is developing a new video camera for its Xbox 360 video game console that will allow players to control games with the movement of their bodies."
The brief piece went on to say that the add-on would not require any physical controller like the Wii, before speculating that it might--might--be shown at E3. After declining to answer the Journal's queries, corporate reps would tell GameSpot only that "Microsoft isn't commenting" on the report.
If the notion of a 360 motion-sensing camera sounds familiar, it should. So far, 2009 has seen an increasing number of reports that Microsoft is working on such a device. It all began in February, with reports that the Redmond, Washington-based software behemoth had bought 3DV Systems, a small Israeli company that produced the Z-Cam camera, which senses motion along the X, Y, and Z axes. Sources not only confirmed the deal to VentureBeat correspondent and Xbox expert Dean Takahashi, but also told him that the camera was "definitely" being used for a 360 add-on. The journalist said the camera's "motion detection was accurate, much more so than with the Wii."
After lying fallow for months, the 360 3D camera rumor resurfaced last week, when tech blog Engadet posted a photo of a motion-sensing camera peripheral hooked up to an Xbox 360. The controller's capabilities sounded virtually identical to that of the Z-Cam, with "full body and hand gesture control of games [and] characters" including the ability to "kick, punch, duck, dive, [and] jump."
The add-on will also apparently recognize "hand gestures like pinching, grabbing, and scrolling" and will also feature live video conferencing, among other features. According to reports on the tech site Ars Technica and the UK newspaper The Guardian, these abilities were the same as those displayed by the Z-Cam when it was at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.
Check back the morning of June 1 for GameSpot's live coverage of Microsoft's press briefing from the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.