Saturday, September 28, 2013

iMotion 3D controller launches on Kickstarter with dreams of replacing your mouse, we go hands-on (video)

If you thought the Kinect was a brilliant step forward in 3D sensing and you were enthralled by the possibilities of hand gestures with the Leap Motion, then you might be interested in what the iMotion 3D motion controller has to offer. A small rounded rectangular device that fits onto your hand like a glove, the iMotion is composed of accelerometers, gyroscopes and three LED sensors that will communicate with any standard web cam to locate your body in 3D space. There's no special sauce to it either; as long as you have the iMotion software on your computer, you're able to use the controller with pretty much any application. However, iMotion does plan on releasing an SDK so that developers can fine-tune their app or game to enable additional features of the iMotion, such as better precision and haptic feedback.

The technology was initially developed a few years ago by Intellect Motion, a company based out of Singapore, for medical purposes like sports rehabilitation. A year ago however, it started to delve into the gaming side of things and came up with the prototype device you see above. Now the company is ready to move on to the next stage, and that's to launch the device on Kickstarter and get the iMotion out to the public. Join us after the break to get our early hands-on impressions, a video of it in action and more details of the Kickstarter campaign.

We found using the iMotion to be fairly intuitive. We slipped the controller onto our hands, and all of a sudden we were moving the cursor by waving our hand around. To left-click, we simply closed our fingers to cover the top LED; you can calibrate it so that only a partial covering will suffice. There are also additional buttons on the side of the iMotion that can simulate a right-click or center button. We should note, however, that it does take a little bit of getting used to. Our arm did feel a bit of fatigue after holding it up for awhile, and we had to remember to place our controller so that it was within line of sight of the camera. After a few sessions of Angry Birds though, we felt like we had a good sense of how to control it.
iMotion 3D controller launches on Kickstarter with dreams of replacing your mouse, we go handson video

Alex Khromenkov, one of Intellect Motion's co-founders, also demonstrated the iMotion with an open source first-person shooter called Xonotic. He showed that you can move around the space by positioning your hand closer or further away from the camera. Another very intriguing use of the iMotion is to pair it with the Oculus Rift. Instead of using an Xbox controller or the Razer Hydra, you can move around the virtual space naturally just by attaching an iMotion to your body. Khromenkov suggested using one iMotion on your belt buckle for movement and another iMotion on your hands for picking up and using objects as in the photo above.

The controller was a bit large for our small hands, though Khromenkov tells us that the final version will have adjustable Velcro straps. On the underside of the iMotion are four vibrating pads which are there to provide haptic feedback. As mentioned earlier though, that's only available if developers have incorporated the iMotion SDK into the app or game. They can set it so that the controller vibrates to let you know which direction you're getting shot at in an FPS, or to let you know if you've gone out of bounds a gaming environment. Khromenkov tells us that over 100 developers have already signed on for the SDK, so hopefully we'll see even more usage examples of the iMotion.

In order to get the iMotion into consumer's hands, the company has started a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign. Early bird pricing for the first 100 is set at $49, the next 2000 sold will be $59 each, while the final retail price should be around $79. Anyone who buys a controller will get access to the aforementioned SDK, which should let devs create iMotion-compatible apps for the Mac, PC or Linux. If that sounds like a great idea to you, feel free to check out the source link below to show your support.

Source: iMotion, Kickstarter

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