More sources are now confirming that the software and gaming giant is indeed ready to purchase 3DV Systems, makers of the ZCam; a camera device that allows gamers to "enjoy a genuinely immersive experience" according to its website.
First reported as a rumour by Israeli news outlet Haaretz, Dean Takahashi, a veteran journalist now writing for VentureBeat states that his sources also confirm the takeover deal in a recent column. Microsoft stands to acquire 3DV Systems for the relatively small sum of $35 million. 3DV Systems has raised over $38 million from investors like Rafael Development Corporation and The IDB Group since its inception in 1997. Obviously this will result in a significant loss for the investors.
With the acquisition of 3DV Systems, Microsoft is looking to gain a stronger foothold in the video game console market. The company’s Xbox 360 is currently in a distant second place in this generation of video game consoles behind Nintendo’s Wii; a system that relies heavily on motion-based control, often considered easier for “non-gamers” to play.
Though the Xbox 360 and its nearest competitor the PlayStation 3 from Sony already have camera peripherals that can be used as control devices, the software for these has been less than stellar. The titles are always played on a 2D plane, leaving little room for innovative game design and the devices themselves are often imprecise or require excessive lighting to function.
The ZCam, which will undoubtedly be renamed by the time it is released to the public, was first announced back in 2007. It differentiates itself from the current Xbox Vision Cam, Wii Remote and PlayStation Eye by allowing users to make gesture inputs in a fully 3D space without the need to hold or wear an external input device.
The Zcam is also capable of rendering a user’s own 3D image within software in real-time. This feature could provide an unparalleled amount of realism for just about every video game genre. Microsoft has not yet officially announced their takeover of 3DV systems, so it is unclear if they will incorporate the technology into the Xbox 360 or wait until it’s next-generation console debuts in a couple of years.
As a gamer with a physical disability, I am excited at the prospect of having 3D motion controlled games using nothing more than a hand, leg or even a solitary finger. Often times I find it uncomfortable to hold the relatively small Wii Remote and Nunchuck for longer periods and current camera games are frankly not very fun at all because of technical and design limitations.