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 Post Posted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:04 am 
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Sony Move controller had basic beginnings
18 Sep 2010 - 12:46

Move, Sony's new motion controller for the PlayStation 3, has been nearly everywhere in the days and weeks leading up to its official release September 19.

Gaming fans and critics alike have seen what the new device can do, how it will behave and even how it will affect their current and future gaming. But as complex and complicated as it seems, the Move had a very basic beginning.

To paraphrase Walt Disney, it all began with a ball.

At a demo event in Washington, the man behind the Move, Richard Marks, talked about how the motion controller came to be and where he hopes it will take gaming in the future.

As the manager of research and development for Sony, Marks said that work on the Move started after they developed the EyeToy camera for the PlayStation 2 and discovered they needed a ball to help it focus.

"Early work with the EyeToy camera got it to recognize specific shapes and colors to help it with tracking," Marks said. "We figured out that lighting is key to tracking."

Marks and his team found that the EyeToy, which is now a part of the Move system, was able to find and follow items that were sphere- or ball-shaped.

It's not surprising, then, that the hand controllers for the Move, which started showing up in online stores this week, are topped with colored balls that have led some to compare them to ice cream cones.

"The sphere looks the same no matter what angle you hold it," he said. "The camera then tracks the location by the size of the sphere. Bigger sphere means closer to the screen, while smaller means further away."

The development team used foam spheres with some success until a researcher wanted to make the spheres light up. It turned out that lighting the ball helped the EyeToy track the device even better.

"[The researcher] wanted the sphere to change colors to reflect different things in potential gameplay," Marks said. "What we found was that the camera worked better because the colored light in the ball makes it stand out from any background."

The Move and EyeToy actually examine the surroundings of a player for color pixels and then assign a completely different color to light up the sphere. The result is a smoother tracking of movement in three dimensions, something that a similar controller for another console can't do.

Once they got the camera to track a lighted, colored sphere reliably, how could they turn that into a game device?

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