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e3 2013

Virtual Robots Show Off Some Of The New PlayStation Eye's Potential

by Jeff Cork on Jun 14, 2013 at 01:02 PM

During my tour of Sony’s booth, I got a chance to see a series of demos based around the PlayStation Eye and the PS4’s new controller. They’re clearly not ready for a prime-time release, but my interactions with a bunch of little robots showed that developers have a lot of tools at their disposal with the PS4.

The demo starts with a shot of the play area, as captured by the new PlayStation Eye. I played with the EyePet for a fair amount of time on the PS3, and the old camera’s 640x480 resolution made the schism between CG characters and the captured real-life backdrop jarring. The new device supports resolutions up to 1280x800, and the higher resolution is immediately noticeable.

The PS4’s controller has a speaker built into it, and when I hold it up to my ear I hear a squeaking sound inside. The conceit here is that the controller is like a genie’s lamp; rubbing the trackpad releases its inhabitant – in this case, an adorable floating robot named ASOBI. He putters around the screen, making whirring squeals and clicking sounds. When he gets close to my head, I’m able to swipe him away or tickle him. He likes the tickling, but grows increasingly annoyed at the batting motions. Eventually, a target reticle appears on my head. I move out of the way, avoiding his blast. The Sony rep doesn’t fare as well, and his hair catches ablaze on the screen.

The next demo “fills” the controller with a dozen or so tiny bots. When I tilt the controller around, it rumbles to simulate them rolling around inside – a neat illusion that also shows the stronger rumble motors. I then get a peek inside the controller; when buttons are pressed, the robots dance around. When the light on the front of the controller is covered with a hand, the interior appears to dim, and the area is illuminated only by the robots’ eyes.

The Sony rep then flings the robots out of the controller by flicking the touchpad. They mill around on the floor, responding to our waves and foot movements. In one last trick, I see how players can use connected tablets with the PS4. Using rudimentary drawing tools, the rep paints out a heart, which drops onto the floor as a three-dimensional toy.

As we see more PS4 games in development, we’ll naturally see the capabilities of its hardware, controller, and other accessories. In the meantime, I walked away from this endearing demo with a better understanding of what kinds of tricks that developers can use in the next generation.