Soon enough, Portal players will be able to lift Companion Cubes and fire off portals with a simple flick of the wrist. Intel and Creative are teaming up to release the $199.99 Senz3D camera-- a device similar to the Kinect but with 3D precision rather than two dimensional motion detection.
Intel unveiled the Creative Senz3D camera at this year’s Computex in Taipei back in June, and now the camera is available for order via Creative’s website. We saw a demo of how the Creative Senz3D can be used to play Portal among other games and apps, but at this year’s New York Comic Con we had the chance to go hands on with the final version.
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During our gameplay demo we tossed Companion Cubes around our environment to complete certain tasks. For instance, we lifted and dropped the cube over a button to move on to the next stage and aimed the box to fire a laser at our target.
Even after playing the game for a few short minutes, we could tell that Intel and Creative implemented gestures that make gameplay more natural. This means you can close your hand to make a fist in order to lift the Companion Cube, and extending your arm toward the screen will move the cube forward. To drop the Companion Cube on our desired target, we simply opened our fist to release it.
We found gameplay to be smooth and intuitive for the most part, but we also noticed that motions needed to be very deliberate in order to accomplish tasks. When we weren’t focusing on our goal, we ended up dropping cubes unintentionally rather than holding them in place.
The Creative Senz3D isn’t the first device to merge perceptual computing with gaming, but it differs from the competition in that it uses two lenses to create a wider depth of field. This means that it can detect the minuscule movements of your fingers and arms rather than just picking up shallow motions.
We’re already beginning to see perceptual computing devices integrated natively into computers, and the Senz3D will follow suit. HP and Leap Motion announced that the $79.99 motion sensor will come embedded in the HP Envy 17, and back in June, Intel told us that the technology inside the Senz3D will end up inside devices as well. Preorders for the Creative Senz3D kicked off in early Sept. and the device is now available to order online through Creative’s website and Amazon.