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Taking the Wii Controller to the Next Level 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-play-with dept.
funfail writes "It's a Wii without the $250 console. It's virtual Pong and so much more. Any object is now an input device, even your fingers. Camspace is a pure software solution that allows nearly any ordinary PC webcam (95% are supported) to track up to four objects — even as small as 5mm — in real-time and with very high accuracy and reliability (Windows only). Techcrunch has an in-depth article and a video." Very neat idea, but it appears that it is in a limited beta only, and source doesn't appear likely.
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Taking the Wii Controller to the Next Level

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  • by antirelic (1030688) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:45AM (#23810617) Journal
    Sweet! At the next level my Wii controller gets henchmen and has a ThAC0 of 11, and 98 Hit points! I think we will be ready to defeat the Play station which is only level 3!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:46AM (#23810627)
    set one of these up pointing at your computer screen... and have it track your fingers.
    • "one of these" isn't anything but a webcam.

      That's the whole point. You don't have to buy any hardware or software for that matter, they say they will never charge anyone for the software either.
      • by DrYak (748999) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:00AM (#23810837) Homepage

        "one of these" isn't anything but a webcam.
        That's the problem too...

        Massive lawsuits coming from Sony for infringement of all patents they managed to get granted regarding the Eye Toy in :
        5 seconds...
        4...
        3...
        2...
        1...
        Take of every lawyer !
        For Great Justice !

        • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:19AM (#23811091)
          The eyeToy doesn't work on the PC, so there's no loss of market share.

          If their patents cover all of these style of input devices, and not just PlayStation versions, then the patent office has a serious case of cranio-rectal inversion.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by stoolpigeon (454276) *
            If their patents cover all of these style of input devices, and not just PlayStation versions, then the patent office has a serious case of cranio-rectal inversion.
             
            Have you been paying attention? This question has been settled for some time. Hence the gp's high level of confidence.
          • by mea37 (1201159)
            That they have not implemented the patent for the PC, would not mean that anyone else could implement the patent for the PC without licensing. (Unless the interface wtih the PlayStation is somehow integral to the invention or the patent is badly enough written to represent it as though it were.) Patents aren't about protecting existing marketshare. (Copyright does take impact on market value into account in the fair use criteria, and trademark has everything to do with confusion in defined markets, but
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Theoboley (1226542)
          Also, the webcam + game thing isn't anything new. I remember buying a webcam back in 1999 and it had games as such included on it like this. you sit in the little outline it has on the screen and move your arms around to pop bubbles... or whatever have you. Nothing new. Sony has no grounds for a lawsuit, as it had happened LONG before their eyetoy was ever released.
      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:02AM (#23810867) Homepage Journal
        What? Multitouch without lining the pockets of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs? Blasphemer! Communist! Why, that's downright un-American! Put him in Gitmo! ;)

        The question is: okay, so we know it will be free as in beer, and that they will have Windows first, then Mac and Linux later. But what about free as in speech? This is all in software -- so will they be releasing this under an open source license? And if not, why?

      • by SQLGuru (980662)
        I don't have a webcam, you insensitive clod.

        Last time I checked, a webcam was a hardware purchase......and not everyone has one (for some of you, I'm glad of that fact).

        Layne
    • by gyepi (891047) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:04AM (#23810901) Homepage
      This should be combined with the head-tracking solution by Johnny Chung Lee [cmu.edu] (your head is the object which is recognized) - low cost 3D first person shooters!
  • nevertheless, very interesting! Really cool.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:49AM (#23810673)
    ...but /. is running ads for Russian mail-order dating sites now? Seriously? I realize we're all nerds here and not exactly smoove with the ladies, but is this how low we've sunk? Damn. That just peed all over my morning.
  • by J-F Mammet (769) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:49AM (#23810677) Homepage
    This certainly seems to be a very nice software, but the main issue with using webcams as input devices is the latency. Your average webcam can take quite some time between what it's filming and what the PC is actually getting at the other end. And this is a very bad thing when it comes to gaming. You can even see the latency in their video at around 1:30 when they have the players and the PC screen in the same frame.
    Nice for simple games I guess, but for serious gaming it would require special cameras with low latency.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JustKidding (591117)
      I can see some applications for this in 3D modeling, where latency isn't really an issue. The solitaire game at 2:10 has some scary similarities with Minority Report.
    • by pherthyl (445706) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:50AM (#23811523)
      Yeah the video is hard to believe. I've done lots of work with image processing using webcams and they're usually pretty crap. You can get 30fps max, and then usually only at 320x240. If the lighting conditions aren't good, your framerate will drop (or everything goes unusably dark if you disable the automatic aperture adjustment).

      They show some latency, but overall the motion is incredibly smooth. Based on my experience that's impossible, but I'd love to be proven wrong. Gotta try that out.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        Typical firewire webcams are now often hard to find, except sometimes very cheaply as discount surplus :) DV is an acceptable quality/resolution...
      • I've seen a bunch that tend to do between 22-35fps at 640x480. I guess the resolution would determine how small of a 'tracked' object you could use, but what do you need really high FPS/resolution for?

        High resolution=tracking smaller details, but most are probably going to be not too hard...

        At 30fps, that's about one frame every 33 milliseconds, which is a decent enough refresh for a lot of inputs, and less than some people get as a ping in online gaming.
    • Besides, the webcam may have a hard time tracking Z-axis direction, pitch, and acceleration in the same manner that the Wii provides. Perhaps if they let you track Wiimotes with this device it could yield greater accuracy, but then you are right about the latency issue. A neat trick, but for hard core games it won't do the trick.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        Perhaps if they let you track Wiimotes with this device it could yield greater accuracy, but then you are right about the latency issue.

        Well the genius of the wiimote is that it puts the camera in the controller, and the things the camera tracks are fixed points. This makes measuring Z-axis easy (distance between the points) as well as pitch (apparent angle), using only the small wiimote.

        Whereas to measure tilt or Z, this method basically requires you to hold a sensor-bar-sized object (the steering wheels
        • by aj50 (789101)
          Actually, the wiimote is somewhat limiting in it's tracking capabilities (but fortunately in a way that isn't usually apparent). The wiimote can't tell whether or not it's looking at the sensor bar from the side or not, when you move the wiimote left or right, the two lights appear to get closer together in the same way as if you'd moved it further away from the television.

          Since the wiimote is usually used from roughly in front of the TV as a pointing device, this isn't usually a problem.

          I would expect that
          • by Chris Burke (6130)
            Actually, the wiimote is somewhat limiting in it's tracking capabilities (but fortunately in a way that isn't usually apparent). The wiimote can't tell whether or not it's looking at the sensor bar from the side or not, when you move the wiimote left or right, the two lights appear to get closer together in the same way as if you'd moved it further away from the television.

            Since the wiimote is usually used from roughly in front of the TV as a pointing device, this isn't usually a problem.


            Well, it would onl
    • by GWBasic (900357)

      Nice for simple games I guess, but for serious gaming it would require special cameras with low latency.

      Perhaps it would make a good alternative to a mouse?

  • Clever (Score:4, Informative)

    by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:53AM (#23810729) Homepage Journal
    People have been writing webcam tracking software for ages, some is actually open source [gnome.org] and there's even phonecam tracking software [gizmodo.com] but this the first hopeful sign I've seen for something more fun than some stupid logitech wobbly eyebrowes and a moustache [gizmodo.com]!

    --
    Free Playstation 3, XBox 360 and Nintendo Wii [free-toys.co.uk]
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      I just tried to build camtrack, and it said I don't have dependencies that I have. :( Anyone out there have any better luck?
  • But, man, this one has the best user interface I've seen, by far. And the other ones are either specific motion tracking games or are otherwise specific to some small part of the problem... plugins for particular applications, and the like.

    I suspect there will be an open source clone out within six months though... possibly based on Intel's open source computer vision library.
  • 3d telemetry? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:58AM (#23810809)
    interesting.

    my first thought was a black jumper, black glove, bright, UV dots at key joints and fingers with four of those webcams and some clever software, and hey presto - instant real time telemetry system.

    hook it up to a remote arm and you have one nifty method of control. (seen the movie FX2?)

  • Source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:59AM (#23810827) Journal

    source doesn't appear likely.
    So, if the source isn't available, we whine!

    This is one of those very annoying parts of the whole Open Source Movement, the whining. Good Idea, no source = whine.

    Code it yourself, and give your work away. Stop whining, please. It doesn't do the community any good when you whine.

    Seriously, if the code isn't open and it isn't going to be, start your own, and stop whining. It would be so much better if we stopped whining and posting the whines to slashdot and started to code.

    One of the side benefits of this (coding a good idea like this) would be that no company would dare release beta code, if it knew that the OSS version was on the way.

    Now, get back to coding!
    • thank you. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:08AM (#23810959)
      As a guy who likes the open source movement, I'm well aware how those who think they love freedom really want to push rules onto other people.

      Open source = good
      close source = good

      freedom = good

      being forced to open or close one's source = bad

      • I don't really see what people are griping about in terms of source, but I suppose it depends on what they're looking for. Having the software open-source would be great (but unlikely). What I'd really like to see though would be an openly available SDK so that people can take advantage of the software.
      • by Surye (580125)
        Which is why only BSD/MIT like licenses are the only real OSS licenses.
      • by MartinG (52587)
        Having slaves = good
        Not having slaves = good

        freedom = good

        being forced to release or keep one's slaves = bad

        Of course in reality it's easy to see that slavery is bad for society as a whole even though it makes some people better off. The same is true with software freedom. In both cases, the overall freedom of society is more important than the individual right to restrict or remove the freedom of others.
        • You know, if you didn't equate closed source software with slavery, I wouldn't have found your point so freakin ridiculous.

          I can see why you see it that way, but it's pretty easy for me to say you're wrong, because in my view, you are.
      • If complaining that something should be different is the same thing as forcing [reference.com] someone to change it, then your own complaint is a forceful suppression of free speech, and I should call the police to have you arrested.

        Moderators, the insightful mod is for non-fallacious reasoning, not for "I like his conclusion even though his argument is idiotic." The parent post is just a troll.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mecenday (1080691)
      Hrm... wow, how exactly is that whining? The comment is mentioning limitations, and no source is a limitation if you're sitting on a linux box. At worst he's suggesting the same thing you are: "Let's clone this" sort of follows from "good idea, no source."

      Anyways, you're hearing whining where there is none... maybe your cubemate is a whiny linux user or something and you got some interference this morning. =)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The "no source" comment is a whine. It means "I want the code for free", and "I'm too lazy or incompetent to code it myself".

        If what he meant to say was "wow, this is a great idea, who's got open source version?" then that's what he should have said, as it is much less ambiguous and actually would promote Open Source Coding. Someone (or a few) versions might come to light and those that were interested could pool resources and actually get to work on improving what exists.

        It is better to promote what IS ope
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If what he meant to say was "wow, this is a great idea, who's got open source version?" then that's what he should have said, as it is much less ambiguous and actually would promote Open Source Coding.

          Translation: "I am intolerant of others' shortcomings in the communication department, and insist that they conform to my ideas of how people should speak or I will berate them."

          It is better to promote what IS open than it is whine about what isn't. The best way to win for OSS is for it to actually compete with better software.

          Positive reinforcement of what is good is more effective than negative reinforcement against what is bad (good and bad being as subjective as ever) but that doesn't mean that negative reinforcement doesn't work.

          If we, the OSS community, can out-compete those developing proprietary, they'll eventually release it Open Source without us even asking (whining) for it to be open

          Or, you know, just abandon and eventually lose the source code.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Or, you know, just abandon and eventually lose the source code.

            So what? You never had the code in the first place, and if you'd develop open code originally you wouldn't care in the second place.

            The code isn't yours, so why should you care if if disappears, especially since you never had access to it in the first place?

            Your whole whine is nothing short of exactly what I'm talking about originally. Typical of many who want to decide what others can and can't do.

            I don't whine about closed source software. It is pointless to whine about it being closed, because it isn't

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I don't whine about closed source software.

              Only about people whining about closed source software?

              It is pointless to whine about it being closed, because it isn't my code.

              So your meta-whining isn't pointless?

      • no source is a limitation if you're sitting on a linux box.
        Not if they provide you a binary it isn't.
    • Especially since there is code available... At least for the machine vision part. OpenCV [intel.com] anyone? There are plenty of videos on youtube.
    • Oh stop whining (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msaver (907214) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:23AM (#23811147)
      CmdrTaco wasn't whining that the source isn't available, but he seemed disappointed the code won't be freely available. He wasn't accusing the author of immoral licensing practices.

      And why shouldn't he be disappointed? it'd be fun to play with.

      My first thought was "neat... can I play with this code?" and I'm sure my reaction wasn't unique.
      • CmdrTaco wasn't whining that the source isn't available, but he seemed disappointed
        He was whining over his disappointment. Instead of being disappointed, he should have asked if there was anyone on /. who was working on it as OSS.

        So, who's got something going ????
    • Re:Source (Score:4, Funny)

      by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:30AM (#23811263)
      Man, I'd hate to live with you if you think that's whining. AM's roommate: uh oh, looks like it's going to rain soon. AM: STOP FUCKING WHINING! I CAN'T TAKE IT!
    • by kuzb (724081)
      The people who whine are also typically the people who are incapable of writing the software in the first place. I do however, support your statement.
    • by Facetious (710885)

      So, if the source isn't available, we wine [winehq.org]!
      There. Fixed that for ya.
  • by hypergreatthing (254983) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:59AM (#23810829)
    So... this has nothing to do with the Wii or a controller for that matter. It's video recognition software.

    GJ.
    • by javilon (99157)
      It is video recognition software used to implement a controler, so you could eventually play wii type games.
  • by Vapula (14703) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:04AM (#23810909)
    What this is doing is basically the same than the PS2 EyeToy... Maybe with a better accuracy (but, well, the hardware is more recent).

    I wonder What Sony will think about that... I guess their patent lawyers will be ready to jump on the case...

    For Information, EyeToy Antigrav tracks
    - both arms for character's arms movements
    - head movements for the character direction change
    - jump/duck to make the character do the same things...
  • Oxymoron (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:04AM (#23810911)
    I concluded this was a hoax as soon as they said it was reliable AND runs on Windows.
  • I wanna see you play boxing with a 3 fps webcam.
  • Maybe it's just me, but when one looks closely at the video, it doesn't seem that the camera isn't even point at the objects that are being used as controls. Is it possible to down load the software? I'd like to try it for myself before getting to excited.
  • this would be quite interesting to use for audio applications. have it control various knobs on some VSTs. maybe have it lock onto a guitar, so the effects and distortion actually change based on how you hold the guitar?

    also, it would be a perfect interface for a VST theremin.
  • by mehemiah (971799)
    does it run on linux? mac? no? well, I'll just continue playing my Wii.
  • Hmm... no details on latency / throughput.
    Could this be done with AR Toolkit style glyphs as well?

    And, of course, distance FROM the camera is not captured in either case.
  • Lolcat (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stavr0 (35032) on Monday June 16, 2008 @10:35AM (#23811325) Homepage Journal
    If this thing can track my cat, I want to make a desktop toy out of it ... [wikipedia.org]
  • This is very cool technology, but imho it is a bit inflated to claim it is "the next level" beyond the Wiimote. First of all, you have to keep the objects in view of and facing the webcam at all times. If anything blocks them, or if you are tilting them away from the camera in any way, you lose control. Another big issue which has been mentioned already is latency. Also the CPU (or GPU?) cost of image analysis is very high compared to interpreting a stream of numbers from a few accelerometers, which may n
  • this is a EARLY beta ... I'd love to see it work.
    The PS2 camera that did something similar only worked well under perfect lighting and even then had some problems.

    I'll wait to see this. cool if it works though.
  • Processing.org [processing.org] is an open souce scripting language. It seems like it should be high performance since it's just a thin layer on top of gcc. One of the things it seems like it should do well is allow people to write image processing algorithms like those demonstrated in the video. Processing will do the ugly work of grabbing the framebuffer from a web cam and then gives you access to a good mix of image processsing helper functions. There also looks to be an active and helpful user base on their forum.
  • It's all about the Wiibrator [wiibrew.org], baby.
  • this get incorporated into pr0n?
  • ...with very high accuracy and reliability (Windows only)

    In a related story, Camspace also offers speakers with unmatched audio fidelity and dynamic range (only for use in a vacuum)
    • ...with very high accuracy and reliability (Windows only)

      In a related story, Camspace also offers speakers with unmatched audio fidelity and dynamic range (only for use in a vacuum)

      Your edit should read...
      (only for use with vast majority of PC's on market today to recoup development costs. Remaining 5%-10% of the OS market share to be developed for at later date.)

      I don't understand why it surprises everyone developers shoot for largest market first.

      • by skia (100784)
        If I may, I think everyone's surprise is the least of the things you're having trouble understanding.

        It's not funny that these people develop for Windows. It's funny that the post was (mis)written to look as though features like high accuracy and reliability are only available on a platform best known for the absence of these traits.
  • by Hemos (2) * Works for Slashdot on Monday June 16, 2008 @01:41PM (#23813703) Homepage Journal
    hey,

    we've gotten a few reports of this and one screen shot. if anyone does see an ad for a mail order bride, please send me a screen shot if ya can, but also paste me the click-thru URL.

    thanks - address to send it to is hemos @ well, the website you're on.org
  • OpenCV, anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schweini (607711) on Monday June 16, 2008 @04:02PM (#23815313)
    ages ago, Intel was nice enough to opensource their rather impressive computer vision library called OpenCV [wikipedia.org], which AFAIK would do the heavy lifting for programs like these. What i find strange is that i have yet to see a neat open source program that uses OpenCV - even though i think there's even a python binding to the library (but sadly no perl bindings). Anyone know of a neat biometrics software package, or computer vision in general, that is open source?

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