EyeToy

Hyper - - TECH -

The EyeToy is where Sony’s jour­ney to PlayS­ta­tion VR be­gins. A we­b­cam cou­pled with com­puter-vi­sion and ges­ture recog­ni­tion soft­ware, it was a “con­troller-free” con­troller de­signed to trans­late movement, colour, and sound into in-game ac­tion. Punch the zom­bies! Kick the soc­cer balls! Hu­mil­i­ate your fam­ily! You get the idea.

Bun­dled with a col­lec­tion of mul­ti­player mini-games de­signed to show off its ca­pa­bil­i­ties, EyeToy was an im­me­di­ate and en­dur­ing suc­cess, sell­ing over 10 mil­lion units in its life­time and spawn­ing two prog­eny: PlayS­ta­tion Eye for PS3 and Cam­era for PS4 (see p.64 for more on those).

Sony suc­ceeded where Nin­tendo and Sega had failed. Why? Price was an ob­vi­ous fac­tor: at just $70 for the Play bun­dle, EyeToy was af­ford­able enough to pique the in­ter­est of the gen­eral pub­lic. Also, un­like the Power Glove or the Ac­ti­va­tor, the EyeToy worked. It wasn’t per­fect: the 640x480 res­o­lu­tion meant that it some­times had trou­ble dis­tin­guish­ing any­thing but sweep­ing ges­tures, but it worked and the games were fun.

Sort of. For a lit­tle while.

Sony also had the fore­sight to ded­i­cate a first­party stu­dio – SCE Lon­don – to de­vel­op­ing games for the de­vice, en­sur­ing a con­stant stream of new con­tent for it.

In 2008, SCE Lon­don and Nike part­nered up to re­lease EyeToy Ki­netic, a fit­ness training pro­gram fea­tur­ing vir­tual train­ers who’d shout va­pid en­cour­age­ment while you de­based your­self in front of the cam­era’s piti­less glare. This was a full three years be­fore Nin­tendo re­leased Wii Fit, which was much the same idea but with a be­spoke bal­ance board in­stead of a cam­era.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, and un­for­tu­nately for Sony, the prod­uct that doesn’t re­quire the user to look at them­selves strain­ing to do ba­sic ex­er­cises end­ing up be­ing way more pop­u­lar.

A WE­B­CAM CA­PA­BLE OF COM­PUTER VI­SION AND GES­TURE RECOG­NI­TION, EYETOY IS WHERE SONY’S PLAYS­TA­TION VR JOUR­NEY BE­GINS

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