Friday, August 18, 2006

Lots on the Xbox Live Vision Camera, what it can do, and how it will be used in games

There was just news about how the Xbox Live Vision Camera will be sold, and now Gamasutra has more information on how it will work and what kind of things it can do.
At Gamefest, Microsoft's Jeff Stone demonstrated some of the things the camera is capable of (using the software already installed on Xbox 360s from the Spring update). With the Vision Camera, you can have one on one video chat with other users of Xbox Live (this feature is already setup - in the Guide, go to Private Chat and then Video Chat. Obviously you can't do anything without a camera, but if you want to see it in action send a friend invite to someone who has the Camera). You can filter the video in a bunch of ways, for identity protection or just because it looks cool. Gamasutra says there was no lag, and it worked fine. You can also send pictures with your messages (Create a new message, and after typing it you'll see the option to "Add Picture"), and if you receive a message from someone not on your Friend's list, you'll have the option to accept or decline the photo. You can also create a custom gamer picture, which can be filtered to your liking. Only people on your Friends list can see your custom pic, while everyone else sees the default one (Oh good... I hate to imagine some of the things other people will take pictures of for their gamertag).
The first gesture-based game, TotemBall (which will be included with the camera), was also shown, and a video of it being played is on Gamasutra. Many games will make use of the Vision Camera technology, such as UNO (support is already included - the gamertag is replaced with a video feed from the person's camera when used), and face mapping technology will be available in games like World Series of Poker and Rainbow Six Vegas.
Face mapping will be done by Digimask's technology, which has been used in everything from cell phone greetings to television to video games (It has previously been used with the Playstation 2's EyeToy). Gamasutra tested the technology at Gamefest, and with a few pictures and a film clip where users can pick the perfect frames, a model was made. The demo had options to choose a hairstyle and eye wear, and after created could look around, blink, and even show emotions.
Another technology the Vision Camera will utilize is GestureTek's Video Gesture Control. A demonstrative program allows simple interactivity, where the the user is not displayed but can control and interact with objects on screen. GestureTek also showed face tracking technology, where a box on screen could track a users head. Other people going into the area do not disrupt it, and the user can move fast while the box stays with him.
Another program GestureTek has developed can track objects besides a users head, like hand held accessories that could be bought for this purpose. It is done quite simply: the tracker remembers an object's color and shape, and can then follow it in many ways. From quick movement to rotation, it will pick it up. It can even sense depth using the size of an object, so it can theoretically tell how far an object is from the screen.
Launching on September 19th, the Xbox Live Vision Camera will add a whole new level to the Xbox 360, especially Xbox Live.
[Via Gamerscore Blog]

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