Tech Check

Sony to Microsoft: Game On!

In a surprise move on Wednesday, Sony unveiled its Motion Controller technology, a direct competitive threat to Microsoft's Project Natal, and way, way ahead of schedule.

Sony Building
Shizuo Kambayashi

The Motion Controller from Sony uses hand motions and gestures, together with an eye-sensing camera system that tracks head movements, transforming the body into a game system controller.  In other words, there's no need for hand or remote controls.

"We have decided to release the Motion Controller in fall 2010 when we will be able to offer an exciting and varied line-up of software titles that will deliver the new entertainment experience to PS3 users, " said Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., in media release.

"We will continue to work to have a comprehensive portfolio of attractive and innovative games for the Motion Controller, not only from SCE Worldwide Studios but also from the third party developers and publishers, whom we have been working closely with.  We look forward to soon unveiling the exciting software line-up that further expands and defines the PS3 platform as the ultimate entertainment system for the home."

You'll remember that Microsoft unveiled Project Natal at CES two weeks ago, a massive research and development project that will churn out its first products this coming holiday shopping season.  The move was widely seen as a major leap forward for Xbox 360.  Sony's competing technology, rumored to be at least 18 months away, will now hit the market in the Fall, beating Microsoft to the punch.  Both technology platforms could skewer Nintendo's Wii.

The Motion Controller will work with existing Playstation 3 consoles, just as Project Natal will work with existing Xbox 360s. Both Sony and Microsoft say they are actively working with games publishers so that there are compelling titles available as the new hardware comes to market.

The technology is so new and the release so ahead of schedule that in the announcement, Sony conceded that its "Motion Controller" moniker is merely a tentative name given to the product.

The company says it "will vigorously promote the Motion Controller as the de facto controller of the PS3 platform along with the DUALSHOCK® series controller and will deploy various measures to enhance the software title line-up for the Motion Controller, delivering  groundbreaking interactive entertainment only possible on the PS3 platform."

The folks in Redmond cannot be happy, at best; at worst, they have to be shocked.

Questions?  Comments?