Sony announces video chat add-on for PS3

Called the PlayStation Eye, this camera-microphone peripheral is designed to enhance the communication experience in gaming. Photo: The PlayStation Eye

Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced a new accessory for its PlayStation 3 console that is designed to improve and enhance in-game communication.

Called the PlayStation Eye, the device is a camera-microphone hybrid that connects to a PS3 through one of its USB ports so that gamers can engage in voice and video chat as well as experience new gaming capabilities enabled by speech- and picture-recognition technology. Sony considers the newly announced peripheral the next step up from its EyeToy camera, which it sold for use with its PlayStation 2 console.

Pricing information for the Eye, which is slated for a summer release, has not yet been disclosed.

Sony is touting a number of next-generation features on the new peripheral that it hopes will elevate the device above third-party cameras and microphones designed for gaming. With a frame rate of up to 120 frames per second at a 320x240-pixel resolution, it's not exactly a high-definition camcorder. But it comes with some gaming-specific features--the camera is designed for low-light conditions, and has two zoom options, for close-up and full-body.

The microphone, attached to the bottom of the camera, promises to eliminate the need for a headset through noise-canceling and speech-recognition technology designed to enable clear audio chat.

Additionally, the Eye comes bundled with a piece of software called EyeCreate, a basic photo- and video-editing tool that lets PS3 users save photo, video and audio content to their consoles' hard drives and add visual effects. Sony also said that future PS3 gaming titles and services will make use of the Eye's technology.

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