Microsoft patents motion-sensing technology

New spatial-measurement system detailed; will the Xbox 360 eventually incorporate a Revolution-style player interface?


Nintendo has made no secret of its "blue ocean" strategy for the next generation of console wars. Instead of getting bogged down trying to do the same thing its competitors are doing, only better, the company is looking to explore new waters, creating markets where there are no competitors. One of the prime examples of this strategy is the motion-sensitive controller for the Nintendo Revolution, but the blue ocean Nintendo had envisioned could be getting pretty crowded by the time the system comes out.

Last week, a post on the flash-game and movie site sparked rumors that Sony was hard at work on a Revolution-style controller for the PlayStation 2, and now there's evidence that Microsoft is exploring similar technologies.

A little over a week ago, a US patent was granted to Microsoft for a new method of spatial measurement. Basically, the setup proposed in the patent application can track an object's path through 3D space using multiple-range cameras in a more accurate and consumer-friendly manner than has previously been available. The patent was originally applied for in August of 2004.

The patent makes no mention of the technology being used for anything game-related, but it does say it would ideally be implemented with something that has the basic components of a personal computer, and also emphasizes that a number of modifications and variations to the technology are possible. The only use for the technology explicitly described in the patent is that of tracking a user's path walking around a room.

Microsoft has already announced that a camera peripheral is in the works for the Xbox 360. And while the company has been talking about video chat and video mail as future Xbox functions for years, recent reports indicate that the Xbox 360 camera is more than just a simple webcam. A recent report on Xbox 360 Fanboy cites a member of the Microsoft hardware team as saying that the next-gen system's camera will allow for gesture-initiated gameplay. As an example of such, the article suggests a game where players can uses gestures to silently give their teammates orders to advance or retreat.

Microsoft representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.

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