Microvision’s Super Gun

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Demo tech enraged that he himself doesn't own an i7 chipset.

This past Friday it was my job to play press monkey for the Intel sponsored ESL North American Championship, and ironically, the most exciting story didn’t seem to be the gaming itself, but the tech demo from Microvision which just so happened to be making it’s worldwide debut to the public.

What Microvision specializes in, firstly, is portable video projectors. What separates Microvision’s own SHOW WX against other models, is that it uses laser lights, allowing for the most vivid colour and contrast available thus far in the pico projector market. The SHOW WX projects in a widescreen format with a resolution of 848×480 with a 60Hz refresh rate. While it isn’t a perfect solution for replacing your home HD TV, it very well could be in the years to come.

A pico projector is exciting, especially if you happen to be a gadget nut, but the reason Microvision is causing a buzz in the tech market right now is because of their recent teamwork with Intel.

This is a gaming website, and as such, your first instinct should have been “How well does this play games?” Well, I can honestly tell you that it is nothing like you imagined. Because of the money and technology afforded to them by their partnership with Intel, Microvision is attempting to take PC gaming to the next level by possibly creating a platform to rival Microsoft’s own interactive gaming environment, with Project Natal.

Running on a superpowered Intel i7 PC, was Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, developed and published by Codemasters. The interesting thing though, was that the demonstrator was not playing with a keyboard, nor a joypad. He was using a big, heavy gun, outfitted internally with accelerometers and other various do-dad’s one would expect to find in an iPod Touch or iPhone, plus one of their SHOW WX devices mounted where the targeting reticule would normally be positioned.

What the demo showed us was future-tech that Microvision and Intel are trying frantically to bring home to the consumer: the ultimate in gaming interactivity.

If you moved the gun left, your character could move his head left in the same fashion he would if controlled by a mouse or analog stick; the key difference being that the screen you were facing would also move, of course, because of the projector strapped on to it. So as your gun moves, so does the projection, as well as the camera angle/field of view in-game. While difficult to describe positively in written word, it isn’t as annoying as it sounds, and if anything, if several tweaks are made to the service, could easily be the most realistic way to play games from here on out.

What Microvision is trying to accomplish, is an entirely immersive experience. Through the use of, and the PR person stressed, superior software to what is available in Nintendo Wii and in the iPhone, gamers will be able to command total control via a highly precise natural evolution in hardware. While the iPhone’s accelerometer software suffers from a slow processor and a cramped living compartment, Microvision’s prototype hardware is concealed in a large, life-sized assault rifle powered by what you would find in your average high-end gaming computer. That is a large boost of power compared to what either of the nearest competitors are able to do so far.

You’ll want to play games standing up. Crouching and jumping were, as of this demo, mapped to buttons, but ideally, you’d assume Microvision would want to map them to motions involved with the accelerometers. You duck in real life, the character you’re playing as does the same thing.

For walking back and fourth there were two highly responsive buttons placed below the rifle’s barrel. While this placement seemed satisfactory, the rep admitted that they were trying to improve this attribute somehow.

Official Microvision Video

The device was currently wired to the PC running the game, but it was suggested that wireless was going to be a feature added later.

For all intents and purposes, I think the PC gaming world has every right to be excited about this device and the future capabilities it may bring to the fold. While obviously marketed to a hardcore and niche market, let’s face it; that is exactly what PC gaming is all about these days. I am excited about what Project Natal might end up bringing to the table for first person shooters, but honestly, this tech demo left me drooling.

Microvision

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Written by Adam R.

This author procured a media pass for E3 under false pretences, and no longer writes for Critical Gamer.

One comment

  1. There is a project called Virtual3dGun for FPS games that runs on any PC computer and is totally wireless, completely replaces the keyboard and mouse and can be used with a standard screen, a projector, virtual reality helmet and even in conjunction with a tracker for the head movement.
    You can see real evidence http://www.youtube.com/user/virtual3dgun

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