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Report: Microsoft taking on Wii with motion-sensing camera

The Xbox 360 maker will soon release a motion-sensitive video camera that will let players control games with their bodies, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This camera, from Israeli startup 3DV Systems--which has reportedly been acquired by Microsoft--could form the basis of a new motion-sensitive controller that Microsoft is reportedly working on.
Jared Kohler/CNET

Nintendo won't be the only video game console maker with a sophisticated motion-sensitive controller if a report out Tuesday from The Wall Street Journal is accurate.

The report said Microsoft plans to unveil a new video camera that would allow players of its Xbox 360 console to control games by moving their bodies. And if true, it's a clear shot across the bow of Nintendo and its innovative Wii console, which shocked the video game world when it was released in late 2006 with its own motion-sensitive controller.

The camera may well be the product of Microsoft's reported acquisition of Israeli start-up, 3DV, which had developed a motion-sensitive camera.

For months, there had been speculation that Microsoft's interest in 3DV was about taking on Nintendo and the Wii. But neither company would confirm such speculation. On Tuesday, Microsoft declined to comment on the Journal story.

The Journal said, "the camera is based on technology that Microsoft developed inside its sprawling research arm," though it added that, "Microsoft also recently acquired...3DV...which has developed a 3D camera and holds related patents."

For Microsoft, coming up with a controller that could be appealing to a more casual gaming audience is key to carving away at Nintendo's giant lead in the so-called "next-generation" video game console wars. Though both Microsoft and Sony--which makes the much-maligned PlayStation 3--contend that the Wii is not really a competitor, the two companies originally lumped all three consoles together before the generation began in 2005 with the Xbox launch, and continued a year later with the Wii and PS3 launches.

The Journal reported that the new camera could be shown at next month's E3 show in Los Angeles, though it might not come out until later in the year, and that Microsoft is expected to first sell the camera as an accessory rather than bundling it with the Xbox.

On June 22, Geek Gestalt will kick off Road Trip 2009. After driving more than 12,000 miles in the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest and the Southeast over the last three years, I'll be looking for the best in technology, science, military, nature, aviation and more in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and South and North Dakota. If you have a suggestion for someplace to visit, drop me a line. And in the meantime, join the Road Trip 2009 Facebook page and follow my Twitter feed.