Razer and Sixense bring precise motion control to PC gaming

High-end PC gaming accessory manufacturer Razer, in conjunction with Sixense, have teamed up to make precise motion control on the PC a reality. Better yet, the companies are doing it with the help of videogame developer Valve.

LAS VEGAS--With all three home consoles supporting motion control in one way or another it's certainly odd that PC gaming has yet to adopt the technology. Traditionally, PC gaming is the platform others look to emulate but in the current generation of Wii remotes, Sixaxis controllers, and Project Natal , gesture-based gaming on the PC remains untouched.

At CES 2010 we've found that this is about to change. High-end PC gaming accessory manufacturer Razer, in conjunction with Sixense, have teamed up to make precise motion control on the PC a reality. Better yet, the companies are doing it with the help of videogame developer Valve.

Jeff Bakalar/CNET

Using an electromagnetic field sent out from a single transmitter, the two-controller setup is able to create an exact one-to-one duplication of movements onscreen. Of course the technology can also support gesture-based commands, and more impressively, can detect location in space along six axes. There isn't a final design yet, nor is there a price point, but we were assured the Razer Sixense Ultra Precise Motion Controller will be available this year.

During our demo of the unit, we watched Sixense's CTO and Chief Architect Jeff Bellinghausen conduct an impressive illustration of just how accurate the device performs. We looked on at an artificial environment that he was able to completely manipulate with ease, grabbing items in the space, slicing them, and enlarging and shrinking them. It immediately reminded us of the orchestrated hand gestures in the film Minority Report.

But perhaps what's even more intriguing about this initiative is that fact that developer Valve (the Half-Life series, Portal, Left 4 Dead) has signed on to be a part of the experience. During our hands-on demo at the Razer booth we got sit down with Valve's own Greg Coomer who provided some insight as to how the promising relationship came to fruition.

Jeff Bakalar/CNET

Coomer explained the collaboration spawned out of a mutual respect each company had for one another. Once the technology proved viable, Valve pledged a commitment to help bring motion control to the masses. In fact, the demo we checked out today was a version of Left 4 Dead 2, programmed specifically for use with the Razer Sixense controller.

While there was a bit of a learning curve, the motion control was on point and accurate. We were able to rotate and slice a katana blade onscreen, successfully decapitating a few zombies in the process. Shooting seemed a bit more intuitive and we were impressed with the satisfying degree of control the device offered. Of course first-person-shooting games are ideal for a rig such as this, but the technology will offer developers a seemingly infinite range of possibilities.

Jeff Bakalar/CNET

When we asked Coomer about possible motion support for upcoming titles like the next Half-Life 2 episode, he wouldn't directly comment but instead assured us that Valve "is committed to supporting the technology in future games." Of course we'd love to be able to make use of the Sixense control in a game like Portal. That said, it's certainly comforting to know such a respected developer is onboard with Razer and the Sixense controller.

 

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