Controller-free Game Systems

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Controller-free Game Systems

Guests play Kinect for Xbox 360, which needs no controller, during the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation - Kids For Kids Family Carnival 2010 at Skylight SOHO on Nov. 6, 2010, in New York City.

Neilson Barnard/WireImage/Getty Images

Ever since Magnavox introduced the Odyssey in 1972, video game systems have mashed together increasingly complex technology to entertain us. From the photodiodes in light guns that shot cartoon ducks to the accelerometer in the Nintendo Wii, the industry has certainly come a long way from the uber-popular Pong that was released by Atari in 1975.

The most recent evolution of the game console -- and the one that by far mashes up the most tech in one home-sized toy box -- is the Xbox accessory called the Microsoft Kinect. Unlike every system that came before it, this one allows users to game with nothing but their own bodies; no controllers of any kind are required.

The technology that makes this possible was devised in Microsoft's lab in Cambridge, England, and it mashes up voice and face recognition technology, a 3D camera, an infrared depth-detection mechanism and an artificial intelligence computer system that helps the machine "learn" how individual bodies move.

But the mashing doesn't end inside the gaming system. Hackers are using the motion-sensing technology for other applications, such as the creation of 3-D images that can be rotated by the user, hands-free computer access and robot controls.

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