Picture yourself playing a first-person shooter while strapped in an adult-sized baby bouncer that controls your onscreen movement. I know, right?! That’s the idea behind Intellect Motion’s SMotion system, which is on display at CES here in Las Vegas.
The entire setup is almost comically elaborate, consisting of a four-pole steel frame anchoring heavy duty bungee cords which are attached to a harness worn around the player’s torso and crotch.
The actual guts of the system, however, are contained in little more than a sensor-laden belt (see below) attached around the player’s waist that communicates with a standard webcam to track motion. The bungee cords are merely there for stability as the player moves left, right, forward, backward, up and down. The movements are mapped to keyboard keys, such as the arrow keys, controlling the motion of the in-game character.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this system is how accurate the controls are: With motion controllers still in their relative infancy, it’s generally more the norm than the exception to experience things like lag and unregistered movements.
Intellect Motion credits the pairing of its motion belt with a webcam for accuracy within a couple millimeters and a response time of 20 milliseconds, boasting that its product is “10 times more accurate and 10 times faster than existing purely camera based products such as Microsoft’s Kinect.”
My dreams of installing one of these things in my house whenever my wife goes out of town next were quickly shattered when I learned that they’re not intended for home use. Intellect Motion founder Slava Solonitsyn told me that the company is targeting arcades instead. “We want people to get out of the house and play this with their friends,” he said.
Games will need to be specially coded to work with the system, but it’s a relatively trivial feat to remap existing controls to the SMotion belt and, in the case of shooting games, the IM GUN controller. Developers who create games for the system will get a cut of each version sold to arcades. I still think they should make an in-home version. I’d take this over a treadmill any day.