June 2, 2009 11:48 pm

Sony unveils PS3 motion gadgetry

Sony has unveiled a new motion-sensing technology for its PlayStation 3 following a trend set by Nintendo’s Wii. The announcement at the E3 video-game trade show came a day after Microsoft demonstrated its Project Natal motion-sensing device for the Xbox 360.

Both are trying to emulate the success of Nintendo’s Wii console, which uses gestures rather than pressing buttons as a means of game control.

Nintendo on Tuesday announced another innovation at its own E3 press conference. Satoru Iwata, its president, unveiled the Wii Vitality Sensor, a device that will monitor gamers’ pulses as they play.

Sony was the first of the three companies to use motion-sensing in games with its EyeToy camera for the PlayStation 2 console in 2003. Its new technology is a development of that
– using the updated Eye camera for the PS3 and a wand-like device that can be transformed into virtual objects on screen.

Sony said the device, yet to be named, would be available in spring 2010, about six months before Microsoft’s Project Natal camera and sensor is expected to go on sale.

Nintendo is ahead of both with the release of its MotionPlus controller this month. This is a more precise version of the Wiimote control for the Wii.

Nintendo first showed the device at E3 a year ago and on Tuesday demonstrated its abilities in a new Wii Sports Resort game due next month. All three console makers see simpler controllers as a way to expand the appeal of home consoles.

Mr Iwata said Nintendo research suggested 295m people were playing on consoles in the US, Japan and six countries in Europe. But 149m people, about another 50 per cent, said they were interested in playing.

“We still have a long way to go in expanding the gaming population,” he said. He said the Wii Vitality Sensor would let players “achieve greater relaxation” with a video game, but gave no more details of the product.

Sony did give more details of its PSP Go, a new version of its handheld console and the subject of its unintentionally leaked news over the weekend, when a video was released too early.

It said the slimmer console, which downloads games and films rather than using an optical disc drive, will go on sale on October 1 at $249 in the US and €249 in Europe.

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