* Posted Feb 23, 2009 4:37 pm PT
* By thorsen-ink
Source: Silicon Valley business blog VentureBeat.
What we heard: Last week, the Internet was abuzz with word that Microsoft was in talks to acquire a small firm specializing in motion-sensing technology. The reports all traced back to an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz, which claimed that Microsoft was prepared to shell out $35 million to subsume startup 3DV Systems, located in suburban Haifa.
What makes the potential deal interesting to gamers is that 3DV Systems specializes in a cutting-edge form of camera-based motion-sensing based on defense-industry research. The company claims its ZCam camera is more advanced than the PlayStation EyeToy or Microsoft Vision, and will provide better motion sensing than the Wii as well.
The 3DV site describes the technology thusly: "For the first time ever, you can use your body freely to control games, no wearables required, no limitations attached. Move your hand, leg, head or finger in any direction and setting, moving quickly or making fine, minor movement--all these gestures are easily detected and understood by the system, creating a unique, personalized, and immersive gaming experience. This experience is complemented by the ability to combine your own 3D image inside the game scene, in real time."
According to Haaretz, "Microsoft apparently plans to use 3DV Systems' technology in its own gaming technology, probably in the Xbox 360." Today on VentureBeat, former San Jose Mercury News reporter Dean Takahashi replaced that "apparently" with "definitely." "My sources confirm that this is true," he said of the deal. Takahashi, who demoed the ZCam himself, said its "motion detection was accurate, much more so than with the Wii."
The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--A spokesperson on Microsoft's rapid PR response team.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Takahashi didn't literally write the book on the Xbox--he wrote two of them: Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft's Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution (2002) and The Xbox 360 Uncloaked: The Real Story Behind Microsoft's Next-Generation Video Game Console (2006). If any journalist has the contacts inside Microsoft to confirm or deny the deal, it's him.