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PlayStation Move: Hands on at Move Meet-up Boston

Posted by: Ben Berry at 3/25/2010 10:06 PM
Following the announcement of the PlayStation Move, Sony has had a couple of events to get the contoller in the hands of the people. One such event was held here in Boston today on the eve of PAX East. The event was scheduled last a few hours but was in a small room with a capacity of 150 people. I got there a little late so I found quite the long line. Fortunately, I have experience with these types of events, especially in small hotel ballrooms. Hotel Ballrooms always have side doors. I found this rooms side door, and made my way in.

There were 5 large TV's set up with PlayStation Eye cameras and folks in front of them swinging the Move in various unique motions. Several different game bundles along with a game I can only describe as "escape the yakuza on the back of a rolling task chair".

Before trying any of the games, I spent some time with Anton Mikhailov, one of the developers for the Moves various motion algorhythms. I am on record as being pretty skeptical of the new motion technologies for reasons I've detailed in the past. So I was thankful to ask Anton about some of the differences between the Move and the Wiimote.

Anton provided a lot of technical details, mostly involving the differences in how the two systems determine the location of the controller. I'd like to say I can properly explain everything he said to me, but I can't. Between the sound in the room and the excitement of being at a press event, I didn't catch everything. I understand that the Move has 3 axis accelerometers, and far more sensitive gyroscopes. They have all sorts of software adjustments theyre building into the games so that novice users will get the help they need to play the game, and the system can adjust to your increased skill.

But the functionality I was most interested in was how the camera identified the color of the ball on the move from background colors. Anton shared with me that the system works much like a cordless phone does when there's signal interference; it simply switches frequency. Unlike a cordless phone, the Move switches visible light frequencies. Say you're wearing a blue shirt that the system is having trouble distinguishing from. It will simply change which color of blue is being used for the Move in order to better distinguish from the background. I wasn't able to test this, but it certainly makes sense from a workaround standpoint.

There are two conditions that might cause trouble for users in some instances. Using the Move in direct sunlight can make the controller harder for the camera to pick up. The other area of concern is a strong LED light such as a Exit sign behind the user. In that case, the system adjusts to not use a color that interferes with the background light.

I'm not going to take too much away from my gaming experience with the unit so far. The games are all in pre-alpha and require exagerated movements in order to accomplish the gesture you're attempting.

In the end, the Move looks very promising, and will be interesting to see how much of the Wii's motion control market once it's actually released.