TrueMotion’s Way-Better-Than-Wii Game Controller

By  |  Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I’m still mulling over everything I saw at the Consumer Electronics Show, but I know what my sleeper hit is: Sixense’s TrueMotion game controller, which I saw demoed at the meeting room of chipmaker Analog Devices, which supplies some of the technology the controller uses. It looks very much like Nintendo’s Wiimote and the basic idea is the same. But TrueMotion uses a base station that creates an electromagnetic field to provide much, much, much more precision than the Wiiremote. It doesn’t just know the general direction you’ve moved the remote–it can tell exactly where it is and what angle you’re holding it at. End result: You can manipulate on-screen objects in a way that feels dramatically more real than on the Wii.

I could go on, but Sixense’s video demo shows this better than I can explain it–although TrueMotion is even more impressive when you try it yourself than it is in this clip:

Sixense says that TrueMotion will work with existing games as well as ones designed specifically to take advantage of its capabilities. It expects TrueMotion-based controllers for PCs to ship by Christmas, one controller and base station bundled with a game will go for under $100.

 
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44 Comments For This Post

  1. Daemon Says:

    I fail to “see” how this is performing better than Wii manipulation. The Wii is pretty damn accurate and with motion plus, “should” be flawless. I mean, this tech looks great in the vid but honestly it’s not blowing away what you do with Wii.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Daemon, Note, for instance, how he’s able to rotate the ping-pong paddle 360 degrees and not only move the football back and forth but also point it. Those manipulations aren’t possible with the Wii.

    –Harry

  3. mutantmagnet Says:

    Also with the way he was moving his body around it’s obvious you wouldn’t get “the point remote at screen error.”

    The only thing that bothers me is that it might lack forcefeedback or the speaker the remote has. Not a big deal in general but I think it’s something some people would miss if that turns out to be the case with True motion.

    If this device is as responsive as it is precise it may actually be great for gaming in a way 3D mice aren’t.

  4. monkeystick Says:

    There still seems to be this weird lag between the controller and what is actually happening on screen.. not that the Wii controller is any tighter.

  5. cirej2000 Says:

    Harry, are saying that the motions are not possible with the Wiimotion Plus addition? That’s what Daemon is referring to in his post.

    MutantMagnet, I think you’re mistaking the IR camera in the Wiimote versus the motion control portion. No games that don’t use the IR as a pointer on screen have the problem with the cursor. For instance, Guitar Hero and Rock Band would be unusable if the Wiimote had to be pointed to the screen regardless of the mode.

  6. Hal Says:

    Harry you’re wrong. You CAN rotate the Wii remote 360 degrees and the Wii DOES pick it up. The easiest example is simply pointing at the screen while in the Wii menu and twisting your wrist and you’ll see the onscreen pointer twisting as well.

  7. Jacob Pederson Says:

    Just to point out a few things in support of harry :)

    The wiimote has three essential capabilities. It can sense its tilt, acceleration, and it knows where it’s pointing in relation to the two infrared dots on the sensor bar. However, it does not know anything about its orientation or location in 3d space. Wii games can make some educated guesses based on the three data points, that are good enough to play a game like wii-tennis, but not even close to what is happening in this demo.

    From watching this demo, it appears that the truemotion knows both its orientation and location in 3d space. This is key for doing things like picking up virtual objects or swinging a lightsaber in 360 degrees. The wiimote is incapable of either of these feats. Unfortunately, unless truemotion picks up a major partner in the console or pc game industry, this truly genius tech is going nowhere.

  8. Jeffrey W. Baker Says:

    I don’t think it’s genius at all, because with TrueMotion’s concept you need a particular sized and shaped room to play the game, because the controller has to actually move in 3D space. The WiiMote doesn’t have to move around much, the games are programmed to work off acceleration not position. I think Nintendo’s system is better and more practical.

  9. soccerboy Says:

    When you can control an object in realspace and make it move identically in virtual space, not just an educated guess….the options are limitless on what can be acheived in not only gaming but simple computer interface.

    Nintendo gave us a revolution in gaming control beyond the simple controller that just gets more buttons added. Sixense has taken that revolution and is running with it. I want to see more!

  10. David Says:

    The TrueMotion controller can do everything a WII controller can do and more. Therefore the Nintendo’s system is not better. With the TrueMotion controller you could actually create baseball and bowling games were you actually had to go through the true motions of the sport and not just flick your wrists.

    You can say anything you want about the TrueMotion controller vs WII controller but the fact is TrueMotion can do absolutely everything a WII controller can do but WII controller can’t do what the TrueMotion can do.

  11. R!B Says:

    @ Jeffrey W. Baker

    You won’t need a particular sized room, you’d just calibrate it. Duh!

  12. Gasaki Says:

    I think some of you guys doesn’t know the Wii Motion Plus acessory. Just watch the video cirej2000 linked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VixIFLe4LmY
    It’s exactly the same thing as True Motion and it’s already in the stores for some months.

  13. Stuart McCracken Says:

    The scenes with the sword-like objects are probably the most impressive to me. It’s tough to move an object like a sword in a manner that appears proper if you can’t track it right. If your controller lacks accuracy, you end up having to make predetermined motions as actions in the game. To me, that defeats the purpose of motion tracking. It’s like the tricks that people have found that they can sit on a couch and flick their wrist in order to make a perfect move. Why bother with a motion sensitive controller in this case?

    I am glad someone figured this out (nindendo should have shipped it with their console)

  14. mike Says:

    It is amazing all of these new controllers out today. I still have the plugged in kind for my video games.

  15. Emergent Says:

    Gasaki: You wrote, “[The Wii Motion Plus] is exactly the same thing as True Motion and it’s already in the stores for some months.” Although the Wii Motion Plus achieves many of the same things, it is not the same; it’s an inertial system. Inertial systems inherently have problems with “integrator drift” (little errors add up). The Wii Motion people seem to combat this problem by filtering and including some kind of model of human motion, which allows it to track relatively long motions accurately. However, it never measures directly where it is, as the TrueMotion does. So I wouldn’t expect the Wii Motion Plus to be able to track, say, where a person is as they walk around the room over an extended period of time, whereas the TrueMotion should be able to do this.

  16. Justin Says:

    There’s a problem when a remote doesn’t allow enough motion, but another set of problems when it allows too much motion. I’m guessing Nintendo “dumbed down” its Wiimote software in order for it to be useful to a large number of gamers.

  17. rektide Says:

    Is the motion plus actually available? Has it been demo’d?

    I’m a little bit nervous about the 40ms latency between the controller and the game world. Its fairly easy to see watching golf; the club is reaching its apex as the swing is on the ground. Its bad for real time single player games, but its double for multiplayer.

  18. Michael Says:

    The version they are demoing looks laggy.

  19. Currahee Says:

    Um I know I’ve heard that tune before in the vid, anyone enlighten me on who it is?

  20. Kaezi Says:

    @Currahee

    Easy Muffin by Amon Tobin…which also sounds like Slowhand Hussein by Dzihan & Kamien.

  21. anon Says:

    The Wii MotionPlus is entirely different from this. With the TrueMotion, if you picked up the controller, walked slowly across the room, put the controller down, picked it back up, walked back and placed it back in it’s original spot, it would be in the exact same place in the virtual world. If you did this with the Wii remote, with or without MotionPlus, the error due to accelerometer interpolation would be huge.

  22. anon Says:

    To address the MotionPlus video linked specifically: Not that before every action, he must point the Wii remote directly at the screen. This is because the Wiimote’s only method of non-relative sensing is with the IR tracker. Without this, it can only interpolate it’s relative position, which any engineer can tell you will become highly inaccurate very fast.

  23. Gavin Greenwalt Says:

    I’m watching the WiiPlus demo and I’m REALLLLLY suspicious that the location of the controller is reset for each motion. Why? Because it tells me that unless they do it for simplicity (Why would they do that in a demo?) they’re still using a relative accellerometer for their tracking.

    Every single second that the controller is tracking is a another second for an error to compound. The Wii Plus appears to be adding a more refined accellerometer which would add more sensitivity and reduce error but it’s a losing game. I would like to see the Wii Plus do a simple demo that lasts 20 minutes. 20 minutes in I imagine the controller would be somewhere in tibet due to drift in the track.

    This technology provides the wiiplus accellerometer information plus an absolute triangulation system. That means the controller gets calibrated constantly. That’s a dramatically better technology.

  24. Bob Says:

    Will it have multi-platform support?

  25. Sylvan Dieckmann Says:

    It seems like Truemotion uses the same kind of technology as tracking systems from Polhemus and others. While this has been hybridised with accelerometers to produce a more accurate overall track the inherent problems still remain with using an electromagnetic field.

    Primarily this comes from having metal objects in the vicinity, these can play havoc (depending on various factors such as size) with tracking and have plagued such systems for many years. Not easy to overcome considering .. well .. physics.

    I’d be interested in seeing how they have overcome this and if the tracking solution has holes in it when there is random personal lifestyles choices involved such as having a fridge close by.

    Great to see though, having proper gestures in a title would be a wonderful thing!

    You could even just play WiiJenga..

  26. Daemon Says:

    I have to double check but I think the Rayman Rabbid games make you do a lot of these types of control movements to complete the various challenges.

  27. neurotype Says:

    Amazing–how is it doing with relative strength? Hard to tell without actually playing it.

    What I really want to see is decent use of the infrared capability like in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw&feature=PlayList&p=A2619073346C543F&playnext=1&index=10

  28. Sebastiaan Says:

    I still say the Wii is pretty damn accurate, and probably better than this. See the response time between the remote and the on screen action sometimes. Its just a little bit off.

    Plus the Wii Mote CAN do 360 degrees round… example: When you are on the main screen rotate your wii remote… watch the hand.. :)

  29. George Says:

    This looks great, the only thins is that, looking at the demo, it seems to lag slightly. If they could make it so that the action on the screen reacts almost instantly to your actions than it’d be a lot better for games that require quick reflexes. It looks like it lags worse than the Wii controller.

  30. ratp Says:

    This is so fun, i wanna play with this big screen !

  31. Hayalet Says:

    I like the game. Sometimes too many times playing the game

  32. Jim Says:

    The wii remote is great for their games, but if you try the Kodak Theatre player with that pointer remote, you won’t ever be skeptical about how much more precise and accurate pointing can be. Also, the Kodak remote uses radio frequency to connect the remote, so there are no issues about about standing in front of the optical bar, or near a magnetic generator or whatever. You can sit anywhere on your couch, stand off at an angle, wherever.

  33. Anon Says:

    For those who are refuting WiiMotion Plus’ viability by saying it doesn’t track absolute position. Do you really want that? Does that not mean in [insert adventure game or any game with movement required in-game] you would literally/physically be walking to explore the area?

    Thus, the solution for TrueMotion’s controller would be to have an analog stick to take care of the physical movement that you no longer would have to. This would take TrueMotion’s advantage of absolute position tracking out of consideration since now you would control the on-screen character’s movement (like moving around, not the actions) by the analog stick. With absolute tracking out, WiiMotion Plus is very comparable to TrueMotion’s controller (and with already demonstrated support in the game developer community).

  34. juan Says:

    what is the name of that song on video?

  35. Stan Says:

    Look, everyone stop fighting over this and the wii, we’re all nerds here, and we ALL know something like this going mainstream for the PC would mean a freeware oline lightsaber combat game!

    I say we just look forward to that (:

  36. DHEA Testosterone Says:

    Looks great,But it is a demo then I will like to view a real game.

  37. kusiormobilemdeia Says:

    The Wii controller is based on inertial sensing, in other words, it uses MEMS-based accelerometers. The Truemotion controller is based on magnetic sensing technology and is much more accurate. Here is a video link that shows the Truemotion controller working with Spore, Call of Duty 4, Tiger Woods 08 and NBA Live 08… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0Gk_sflEhI

  38. WiiMotionPlus Says:

    To everyone here saying that tis Sixense Truemotion tat’s better than the original wii remote…

    Plz visit here…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acND4sO3pJs

    After seeing….Think again….does Wii really can’t support 1:1 true motion…i dun think so…

  39. Randomray Says:

    I noticed there was a bit of a delay with the demonstrators swings and what was happening on screen.

  40. don herrington Says:

    Is all this moot since wii will have motion plus in July or so?

    Respectfully,
    Don

    http://www.livinginthephilippines.com

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  42. Justin Says:

    I guessing True Motion is similar to the new Kinect from Microsoft. Still, when I compare the new Wii Remote Plus (inbuilt Wii motion plus), the price difference compared to offerings by Sony and Microsoft is quite substantial.

  43. dreambox dm600 pvr Says:

    The dreamcast shipped lots of units, had lots of games, but it failed? It didn't do as well as the Playstation2 but I wouldn't say it failed.

  44. bims Says:

    .) You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

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