Report: Microsoft to Buy Motion Sensing Tech

Reports from last week pointed at Microsoft acquiring Israeli startup 3DV Systems for its motion-sensing camera technology.

According to the initial report from Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Microsoft is negotiating a $35 million purchase of 3DV Systems, though neither company is willing to offer any confirmation or denial of the deal.

3DV System’s technology is based off of camera systems called ZCams which are able to measure depth in captured subjects. The sensed movements captured by the camera are then translated into input information, which could be applied directly into games.

Motion-controlled games now shouldn’t be a radical idea, with Nintendo having taken the idea and turned it into a part of the Wiis monstrous success.

Despite being powered by less advanced hardware, the Wii has ran away from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 partially due to its innovative, easy to play control scheme. Microsoft’s purchase of a type of motion-controller scheme is likely a response to Nintendo’s success in the mainstream market.

VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi described the 3DV Systems ZCam device from his own hands-on as similar to the PlayStation EyeToy, which translated on-camera movement to game inputs, but that it was more accurate in motion sensory than the Wii controller.

“When I did a demo of the technology, I was able to control a game just by waving my arms around. I could fly a plane by pretending to hold a joystick and also box against a virtual fighter by throwing punches toward the camera,” wrote Takahashi. “The motion detection was accurate, much more so than with the Wii, which uses relatively cheap but primitive accelerometers and infrared technology for motion detection.”

Microsoft could also apply this technology for applications other than games, such as to remotely control media center content. With Microsoft already exploring alternative interfaces such as Surface, which require touching a flat table top, it’s possible that the software giant could also be looking at making sense of hands waving about in the air.

Hopefully we’ll hear more about Microsoft and 3DV Systems soon.

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