Iwata: Nintendo passed on camera-based motion-sensing

Publisher's president tells the Financial Times that Wii's accelerometers work better than new tech from Microsoft, Sony.


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Motion-sensing technology was out in full force during the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. On Monday, Microsoft officially announced its widely rumored Project Natal, an Xbox 360 camera peripheral that tracks motion without the need of a controller or handheld device. Sony's press conference a day later also featured motion-sensing tech, as the publisher unveiled a new controller that integrates with the PlayStation 3's EyeToy camera peripheral.

Nintendo's answer to camera-based motion-sensing tech.
Nintendo's answer to camera-based motion-sensing tech.

Nintendo brought no new similar products to bear; though, Ubisoft announced its own motion-sensing camera for the Wii. Speaking to the Financial Times last week, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata explained the company's position on the matter, saying that a first-party, camera-based motion-sensing peripheral for the Wii was considered but ultimately rejected, as it did not perform better than the Wii's current accelerometer-based tech.

"Until they say when they’re releasing it, how much it costs, and what software it comes with, we won't know whether that is the route we should have taken," Iwata told the FT. "However...I think they couldn't choose to release exactly the same thing."

Iwata also took a swipe at those who portrayed the Wii's motion-sensing controller as a gimmick, telling the FT that he was glad the alternative input was being adopted by Nintendo's rivals. "Companies whose people said that motion sensing wouldn’t work are now proposing motion sensors," he said.

All of that isn't to say Nintendo isn't tinkering with its own motion-sensing technology. This week, the Japanese game maker launched the Wii MotionPlus, a Wii Remote add-on that seeks to improve motion-sensing precision by allowing for a better reading on the controller's position and orientation. The add-on, which will be bundled with a number of upcoming titles, is available stand-alone for $19.99.

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