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Mad Genius Controller prototype unveiled

Mad Genius Controller prototype unveiled

Mad Genius Controllers' eponymous product offers two-handed motion tracking accurate, the team claims, to 1/100th of an inch.

Sony's long-rumoured but never-realised break-apart DualShock controller has been given a new lease of life, in the form of the aptly-titled Mad Genius Controller.

The brainchild of the eponymous Mad Genius Controllers partnership, the Mad Genius Controller is loosely based on a concept rumoured for the PS3 back in 2008: a break-apart game controller which can switch easily between normal twiddle-your-thumbs mode and ultra-accurate motion-sensing mode. While Sony's version, the company's rumoured answer to the two-handed motion-tracking control system of Nintendo's Wii console, would never see the light of day, the Mad Genius Motion Capture System has already entered the prototype stage - and it's pretty impressive, too.

Described in a demonstration video uploaded by the team and spotted by Engadget, the prototype is already showing some serious capabilities: with one half of the controller held in each hand, the system uses no accelerometers or cameras to perform its magic - resulting in a tracking system significantly more sensitive than anything that has been seen before. 'I wasn't kidding when I said that breathing affects the aim if you're trying to shoot something very tiny. It really is that sensitive,' a team representative claims in a YouTube comment. 'The sensitivity can be adjusted, of course. But how cool is it to have to hold your breath, just like a real bow?'

Sadly, the team has yet to indicate just what the technology used is - but claims that accuracy of up to a hundredth of an inch is possible across both halves of the controller. Better still, the system is transparent to the device to which it is connected: the team claim full compatibility with the Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStations 1 through 3, Wii and PC, with no requirement to modify the game or the console in order to add the motion-tracking capabilities. A clever programmable macro system allows the unmodified game to, for example, equip and ready a bow when the player enters a bow-firing stance - opening the favourites menu, equipping the bow, exiting the menu and entering the firing mode in a single gesture.

That compatibility does come with a cost, however: because the system watches for gestures in order to transmit a control signal to the game, unavoidable delays crop up which threaten to ruin immersion. In the demonstration video, which sees the controller connected to an Xbox 360 running Skyrim, this is seen most clearly during the hammer-swing portion: the hammer begins swinging in-game after the player has fully finished the swinging motion. 'The time delay between moving the controller and swinging the sword or warhammer is part of Skyrim' the team claims in defence of its technology. 'It's not a delay in the controller. The controller fires the command as soon as the player has done the motion.'

Described as a proof-of-concept, the team already has plans for a commercial implementation. The inevitable Kickstarter crowd-funding launch is coming, the money from which will be used to refine the system and replace the awkward-looking wire tethers with a fully wireless communication system.

If you're curious as to what the system looks like in action, the team's demonstration video is reproduced below.

5 Comments

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SAimNE 13th May 2013, 11:47 Quote
now to combine this with the completed version of those gloves that let you "feel" stuff... and i shall cry tears of joy.
edzieba 13th May 2013, 12:59 Quote
From the looks of it, they've pulled the pad and coil boards from Sixense's Hydra, crammed them into two halves of a 360 gamepad with the buttons wired up, and added a mediator (probably an ubiquitous ARM SoC) to mediate the raw position and orientation data in order to do the gesture recognition. Or maybe the mediator is still done in software on a demonstrator PC and they don't have any self-built hardware yet. The cables do look like they run into a wooden box that could hide the transmission coils from a disassembled Hydra.


If they are actually using their own magnatometer tech (and manage not to fall afoul of Sixense' or Polhemus' patents), and reveal raw position & orientation data with minimal delay (real, without any gesture recognition nonsense), then this could take over from the Razer Hydra as the controller du jour for the Oculus.



Unfairly cynical? Maybe. But I've seen plenty of 'revolutionary' motion control and tracking systems that have turned out to be anything but that I now assume them to be either scams or massive naivety until some hard data is provided.
Zurechial 13th May 2013, 15:00 Quote
Interesting approach, Horrible latency.
Sloth 13th May 2013, 21:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
That compatibility does come with a cost, however: because the system watches for gestures in order to transmit a control signal to the game, unavoidable delays crop up which threaten to ruin immersion. In the demonstration video, which sees the controller connected to an Xbox 360 running Skyrim, this is seen most clearly during the hammer-swing portion: the hammer begins swinging in-game after the player has fully finished the swinging motion. 'The time delay between moving the controller and swinging the sword or warhammer is part of Skyrim' the team claims in defence of its technology. 'It's not a delay in the controller. The controller fires the command as soon as the player has done the motion.'
The claim of unavoidable delays, is that made from looking at the video or an actual reported drawback from the creators? It would seem that the quote from the developers clarifies what appears to be huge latency.

With just a little bit of figuring what's actually going on in terms of what the controller is telling the game it would seem that the "swing hammer" motion must be entirely completed for the controller to recognize it and report a "swing hammer" input to the game, which then begins the hammer swing animation. The controller is effectively turning the "swing hammer" motion into a standard input like "X button" since Skyrim doesn't support real time motion capture for melee weapons.

Just look at the movement and aiming, particularly the over the shoulder portion, to get a better idea of latency involved. It's not extreme.
Gareth Halfacree 14th May 2013, 08:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
The claim of unavoidable delays, is that made from looking at the video or an actual reported drawback from the creators?
From watching the video. I couldn't very well write an article about the video without watching it, could I? ;)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
Just look at the movement and aiming, particularly the over the shoulder portion, to get a better idea of latency involved. It's not extreme.
Who said it was extreme? I describe the delay as "unavoidable," not "extreme" or "huge" - both words you have used in your comment. As the article explains, and as confirmed by the developer, the system works by recognising the gesture and *then* triggering the action. As a result, the delay - the start of the in-game attack action always occurring at the end of the gesture motion - is unavoidable, a drawback of the technique used.

Now, whether that would "ruin immersion" as I claimed depends entirely on the player: it would certainly annoy me, but then again I'm not a huge fan of gesture recognition gaming in the first place.
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