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Sixense remote improves on Wiimote game plan

Company demonstrates its new motion-control device designed to offer more accurate cursor control than the Nintendo Wii remote.

Sixense motion control remote
TrueMotion remote is set to ship in December. Erica Ogg/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Imagine playing baseball on Nintendo's Wii Sports and being able to pull the ball to left field or lay down a bunt instead of just randomly smacking doubles or home runs.

A Silicon Valley company says its take on motion-control technology will offer far more accuracy to such games. CNET got the first look at the technology here at CES 2009.

Sixense Entertainment, based in Los Gatos, Calif., makes the technology called TrueMotion, which was first developed to track the head positioning of F-16 and F-18 jet pilots. It consists of a handset and a base station. The controller tracks movement along six different axes, and the base station generates a very weak magnetic field. The data is used to determine the exact position of the cursor on the screen.

Nintendo's Wiimote, by contrast, uses three axes and measures the acceleration of the handset, not the absolute position of the remote. Using the absolute position allows people playing motion-control games, such as baseball, bowling, or soccer, to "use real world skills," said Sixense CTO and Chief Architect Jeff Bellinghausen. As in, if you know how to play baseball, TrueMotion lets you make strategic plays, like hitting a bloop single to left or a double to right.

But TrueMotion also makes a difference in how games are developed, according to Sixense CEO Amir Rubin. TrueMotion measures the exact degree of position of the remote every 10 milliseconds. When developers know the exact position of the cursor, there's less need to develop complex algorithms for games just to compensate for not knowing where the cursor is.

The first incarnation will be available in December for PC gaming. It will be backward compatible with a number of popular gaming titles, such as Crysis, Call of Duty 4, and the Madden and NBA Live series.

Big game makers have already had the TrueMotion development kit for a year. By the time the PC gaming version is released, they will have had two years to play around with it.

And although it's not announcing anything yet, Sixense says it is in talks with all three console makers--Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo--about licensing its technology. TrueMotion for console games won't be available until 2010 at the earliest.

Here's a video I took of Bellinghausen, demonstrating how TrueMotion technology works.