Sony’s previous motion-tracking platform, the PlayStation 3’s Move hardware tech, was a highly hyped futuristic expansion of gaming potential involving realistic actions corresponding with virtual response. Utilizing the seldom-used PS3 Eye digital camera, video game developers were encouraged to view the Move’s controller less as a button mashing interface and more like a magic wand used for casting spells against virtual enemies. While initial reception and sales for the PS3 Move proved favorable, it later turned into a gimmicky marketing strategy aimed at casual players impressed by the promise rather than the delivery.
While the advertisements showed precision and grace with the Move’s multi-colored wands, the actual product lacked the responsiveness of a traditional controller and had trouble tracking movements beyond the Eye’s limited sight. Developers also had a hard time thinking up interesting ways to use the Move’s wand controller without additional accessories, a problem that would eventually lead to poorly ported games and experiences that lacked any noticeable depth.
A New Era of Gaming
When Sony announced its next generation gaming console, the PlayStation 4, one of the most talked about peripherals was the new dual-camera iteration of the Eye. The PS4's Eye is native to the console as opposed to separately developed like its predecessor and features two independently controlled digital cameras for multiple tasks. The Eye also has a four-channel microphone array for reducing background noise via directional sensors, which intelligently determines who is speaking and filters everything else out. As noted by Destructoid, this theoretically means the PS4 can recognize and execute instructions through voice commands. Facial recognition to unlock certain features on the PS4 is also a possibility for things like profile access and game saves.
Although the PS Eye will not come bundled with the PlayStation 4, players can expect to have Sony's Playroom, an interactive game that utilizes your living room and your movements, to come pre-installed on every console.
The new DualShock 4 controller will also have Eye connectivity based on PlayStation Move technology that will allow game-related information to be passed along through your controller. This is cleverly accomplished by the DS4’s new light bar sensor, which is a set of three LED lights on the controller that react by changing colors to match the action on screen. Is your character low on health? The Eye will send that information to your DualShock 4 controller and the LEDs will start flashing red. This is a promising step in the right direction over the limited Move peripheral, but the real hero is the new PS4 Eye tech.
Eyeing an Upgrade Storm
The PlayStation 3’s Eye digital camera was flawed for a variety of reasons including low resolution (a max of 640×480 pixels), the inability to perceive depth, limited range and viewing arc (especially in dim lighting conditions), low frame rate, slow refresh rate, and a general lack of support from third-party video game developers. This was mostly blamed on the gimmicky applications of the Eye for uses like simple gesture recognition and face mapping. Along with the lackluster success of the PlayStation Move, which enhanced but did not compliment any PS3 games, it seemed the futuristic idea should have been scrapped.
However, the new version of the Eye included with the PS4 has several impressive new features thankfully envisioned for gaming tasks. Rather than looking like a bulky digital camera with a USB port needed for connectivity, the new Eye is now a slimly designed bar with its own dedicated port. This unfortunately means it cannot be connected directly to your PC, but this is mitigated by the ability to directly share videos online using your PS4. The dual cameras can be independently altered by the player or game with one using high exposure lighting to capture augmented reality segments while the other uses low exposure lighting to track the DS4 or Move controller.
Unlike the Xbox One's Kinect, the PlayStation Camera will not feature a full suite of voice commands at launch. While you will be able to shut the console down via the PS4 Camera, and the camera will recognize who is playing by their facial features, you will not be able to control the system in any other way or turn the system on by voice commands.
While Sony has stated that future voice commands are a possibility, their focus lies in other uses of the camera at the current time.
PS4 Camera vs XBox One
Per IGN, video game developers can tinker with the capture settings to make response times faster for more action-oriented gameplay, heavily focus the tracking for precision-based scenarios, or even customize video recording for specialized player movements within games.
The cameras can also track individual players when they’re moving so there’s no longer an emphasis on staying in the Eye’s line of view. The viewing arc has increased to 85 degrees from the previous 75, which is not a huge difference but is largely forgiving for players standing on the edge of their television screen. This also helps the light sensor bar on the DualShock 4 keep track of who’s playing which character on screen, allowing the camera to send information to the controller like low health and having the LED lights react accordingly.
Depth is no longer as issue either according to Sony’s press releases because the PS4’s Eye can correctly tell the player from the background and distinguish multiple players standing behind or in front of each other. This is accomplished by giving every player a different colored light source in the camera’s eye.
The DualShock 3’s previous six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope combination makes a return with added functionality connected to the Eye’s ability to detect changes in how the controller is held. The video recording systems native to the PS4’s Eye gives players the possibility of recording personalized taunts (for killcams and PVP matchups) or even walkthroughs of their gameplay. As previously mentioned, the Eye could potentially listen to voice commands and recognize faces as an unlock feature to the console. The camera can also capture picture-within-picture during gameplay and live streams so players can easily broadcast themselves playing the games on screen.
According to CNET, the Eye now comes with a native 1280x800 pixel resolution on each camera and the option to record in RAW/YUV video at 30 frames per second or higher depending on low on the resolutions scale you’re willing to go (120fps at 640x480 OR 240fps at 320x192).
Perhaps most impressive of all, the new dual-camera system from Sony allows players to actually experience augmented reality while having fun. That’s the promise at least.
Article by - Collin Mak
Insert Date: 4/1/2013