Sony Could’ve Made Kinect, They Just Didn’t Want To
Sony Software Engineer Anton Mikhailov talked to Eurogamer about Sony’s dabbling in 3D cameras and also revealed the specific reasons why Sony didn’t go that route for motion gaming. According to Mikhailov, Sony did everything they could do with that technology already with the EyeToy.
“We felt the cost of the camera outweighed the advantages of what it offered,” Mikhailov said. “When you make the games what [we] found was while it was more robust it didn’t fundamentally enable new kinds of games. The games themselves still played like EyeToy games.”
Mikhailov believes there’s still value in that experience, but it’s still not up to par with what they want.
“So you lose these subtle and quick controls,” Mikhailov said. “You get a magical experience… You can move and something happens. But you lose that sense of connectedness to the game. You get a ton of latency.”
These reasons make Mikhailov surprised that Microsoft decided to go with that technology.
“I don’t know why they did Kinect. It seems very un-Microsoft of them to be honest,” Mikhailov said. “In our research we certainly thought the sensor could sell for cheaper, but at the same time, when you’re dealing with those companies, they’re not always honest with you up front. They might say the cost is X and X, and then they say, ‘We’ve got to put this extra chip in there,’ and by the end the cost is triple or double.”
Mikhailov then detailed all the hardware limitations that would have to change before Sony would take another look at the technology.
“First, it has to be higher resolution, because at this current stage the cooler things you can do you really want some precision,” Mikhailov said. “The next big one is the camera must run at least at 60Hz. 30Hz is awful. When we switched from EyeToy 30 to EyeToy 60 it was miraculously better.”
Mikhailov also explained that even though the camera uses infrared light to track motions, that still causes trouble with certain materials.
“Basically it’s an infrared camera. Infrared light is not some sort of special light. It’s just like visible light, but it’s not visible. It’s a different wavelength. I’m wearing a black shirt and if you look at it with a regular camera, that’s black to the camera. The reason is because there’s no light coming in from that color. So there are certain objects that are infrared black. To an infrared light in an infrared camera they appear black. Those are the objects that are hard to track,” Mikhailov said.
Interesting stuff – check the full interview for more technical details behind the tech powering the Kinect.