An image of the hand using the protoype digits controller. (Photo : Microsoft/Newcastle University)
A computer representation of the Digits Hardware (Photo : Microsoft/Newcastle University)
A few weeks back, rumors surfaced of Microsoft working on a wearable controller. The rumors can now cease as Microsoft showed off a prototype wristwatch controller on Wednesday.
The controller, called "Digits," was designed by the company's research division in Cambridge in collaboration with Newcastle University, and includes a 3D capture device which is going to be applicable to games and other "augmented reality" applications. It is made up of an infra-red camera, infer-red laser line generator, an infra-red diffuse illuminator, and an inertial measurement unit. The IR camera People can wear the controller on their wrists and it is rumored to be a replacement for Microsoft's Kinect system.
Like Us on Facebook
Reports from ZDNET indicate that users will not be restricted to a fixed space when using the controller but can continue interaction as they move from room to room.
In a video interview with the Full Spectrum (seen below), David Kim, a PhD Fellow who was working on the project stated that creating each Digits costs about $400 to make. When asked how other people could make it, Kim responded that it was purely a "research project." He also mentioned that some real world applications would include raising and lowering the volume on a radio without actually touching the item.
While there was no confirmation what the controller would be used for, but it could very well be the Xbox 720's controller. Microsoft's Kinect technology was introduced only a few years ago and with Nintendo continuing to break new ground with its tablet controller called the Gamepad, the onus is on Microsoft and Sony to come up with new interactive modes of gaming that are not restricted to a controller. A wearable controller that is motion sensitive could further the evolution of gaming that Nintendo set out with its Wiimotes in 2006. The fact that the controller unveiled was only a prototype also suggests that it is still a few years away from being ready for primetime, just like the Xbox 720.