2004: PS2 With 3DV Z-Camera Resembles Natal Breakout Demo

In 2004, EyeToy inventor Richard Marks gave a presentation to discuss what he had learned in his 4+ years of research for the PS2 camera. At one point he and Sony were even experimenting with the Z-Camera from 3DV, the same company Microsoft bought in 2009.

At 1:07:03, Marks shows a Breakout-like game using the Z-Camera and a PS2. Journalists speculated that this could have been the basis for the next-gen EyeToy for PS3, but Sony instead opted for a 2D camera with smaller performance upgrades, and the rest is history.

Other interesting moments:

25:00 - March 2000 demo shows primitive one-to-one tracking with a colored wand.
1:07:45 - Richard Marks admits that the Z Camera alone isn't accurate enough for a game like golf, saying, "You could get a rough interface," but "I don't think (a golf sim) would be a good idea."

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Gue13410d ago

Natal = PS Eye shameless rip-off

Confused3409d ago

What do you expect? It's Microsoft.

Oner3409d ago

Exactly, a company that was FOUNDED on stealing/using others ideas and hasn't stopped since.

Mike134nl3409d ago

Why didn´t sony patent this technology, are they just that stupid.

sinncross3409d ago

Did you not read the part where Richard Marks stats that the 'Z Camera alone isn't accurate enough for a game like golf'

Likewise he said at the E3 conference that the eyetoy showed that they needed a button input device for true interaction.

Kakkoii3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

@sinncross: Did you not read the part where it said "alone"?

Alone yes, it's not good enough, because it only calculates depth, but doesn't see color. If Sony had thought to match it up with their Eyetoy, they would have had an early Natal.

Watch at 1:00:30 into the video, it shows the video stream from the ZCam, you can see how detailed it is and how if it was paired with a color camera like in Natal, you then have a perfect motion tracking system.

ShabzS3409d ago

well think about it man its 2004 ... we are in a time where motion controllers actually are acceptable ... but this was before the wii... i think the 2d eye toy was really required for the current technology like natal to even exist... it makes the technological jump seem smoother... but thats just me though

myothercar3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

@ Kakkoii

The Z Camera does both depth mapping and normal video. The reason the camera alone couldn't do a deep golf game is because the tracking isn't accurate enough to catch the subtle movements in your wrist for slicing and hooking your shot.

A remote with gyros and accelerometers is necessary.

That's the thing Natal fans don't get. Some motion games for 360 are going to have to be simplified compared to what MotionPlus and Sony's remote can do. Sure, Natal can track your whole body, but what is the point, where are the demos, show me that it works and is fun. Otherwise, I'm not convinced.

Kakkoii3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

@myothercar: I didn't say the Z-Cam couldn't do video. I said it couldn't see color. The Z-Cam uses a monochrome sensor.

And again, this is the "alone" point I was trying to make. Alone Z-Cam isn't good enough. But that doesn't mean you can't use it along side with motion sensitive controllers and a color camera.

It all comes down to the fact that's it better to have the Z-Cam, then to not have it. As it can enhance any kind of motion tracking your trying to do. The motion sensing remotes only know how they themselves are moving, not the way the rest of your body is moving. And that's where the Z-Cam would come in. Allowing for increased accuracy and whole body motion mapping. And then combined with a color camera for translating your images into the game.

myothercar3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

I read your first post as if you were saying that Natal or the Z Camera could do golf if they could see color, which wouldn't be accurate. I guess it was a misunderstanding.

But it can see color, watch at 1:03:58.

And actually, PS Eye alone with body recognition software can track the location of your head and torso. So the game where you walk around in a room batting a beach ball would actually be possible with just a PS Eye and 2 remotes. It was only tracking his waist up, so it doesn't need your legs, it can automate the walking based on where your torso and head are.

Kakkoii3409d ago

@myothercar: No, the Z-Cam cannot see color. IT USES A MONOCHROME SENSOR that receives infrared light, it doesn't receive light from other spectrum's that would be needed to produce color. The part in the video your talking about is of them using the Eyetoy along with the Z-Cam. So essential they did have Natal like system back then.

And yes, of course software with the Eyetoy can do guess's based on the images it's seeing. But it's still always going to be a guess based on variable light sources and objects colors/textures. The Z-Cam doesn't see colors, just shading that's created from a single IR light source shining on the objects. This way it is able to accurately see the depth of things without needing to guess using software. Thus bundled with a normal camera like the Eyetoy, it's capable of a lot more, since the system then has 2 different sources to extrapolate information from. A depth source, and a color source.

myothercar3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

That's what I thought everyone assumed, that the product would consist of two cameras being overlapped.

Kakkoii3409d ago

Well, you can't overlap 2 sensors. Partially transparent sensors are still in their research stage. You would have to create a material that only let's a wavelength of 750nm and up to pass through to the monochrome sensor behind. While anything lower than 700nm (visible light spectrum) wouldn't be able to pass through, and thus would be picked up by the first sensor.

So while overlapping sensors should be viable in the future, it's currently not.

talltony3408d ago

we all know that natal is a blatant rip off of early eyetoy technology. Sony just really snused on this one. They could of got the credit that natal is getting now if they wanted too. What little respect I had for Microsoft as a company is now almost completely gone after seeing this video. I mean dang! Wasnt this made in 1999??

Kakkoii3408d ago

@Ju: Of course you would need a second angle, I thought it would have been implied through common sense that one would turn the object to scan the angles.

And it wouldn't by impossible this way, sure the models wouldn't be PERFECT, but they would be close enough. Software can do a lot with scans that are off angle.

Plus I wasn't implying it could be done well with what we have now. It could be done better if we used high wavelength's that can see through objects, and create a 3D model like that. Or merely create a rotating stand for people to place objects on to be scanned.

It can be done, not perfect, but more than good enough.

+ Show (9) more repliesLast reply 3408d ago
DlocDaBudSmoka3409d ago

looks like Christ's second coming was 5 yrs ago. so much for M$ innovative tech, lmao.

saint_john_paul_ii3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

just goes to show you that This guy and Sony has been working on this for a long time... its nice to see that this video was put up on this site so that they can see themselves.

saint_john_paul_ii3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

whats funny about this is that Sony was working on this Home Grown for years, while Nintendo got a patent from Midway about motion controls then took a risk on getting this out on the market first.

If you watch the whole thing you would probably be amazed at what the eyetoy did.

Godmars2903408d ago (Edited 3408d ago )

more amazed with what Sony didn't do with the Eyetoy Pope. Like make significant games for it. Sell it better.

If Natal is anything close to a success it'll probably have more to do with advertising than any game on it.

Likewise if its a failure, sales as well as the HD-DVD add on, MS will never admit to it. Will be called a success if it only does as "well" as the Zune while they continue to push it.

Ju3408d ago

We all know Sony's marketing is, err, slow at times. And they could have made more out of the EyeToy, and possibly made the PS3 version a 3D camera. But he also mentioned, that their philosophy is always having a dump device and use the machine (console) to make things work. I guess primarily for price reasons. Consumer electronics and especially gaming peripherals need to be cheap.

I would be very surprised if MS will pull this off. They seam to go the same way as Sony's R&D 5 years ago (and without any experience). You never know, though. Who would have thought that the Wii would work before it came out. But the PS-Eye is there because it was build based on the experience they made with those kind of things over the years.

What's funny is, that the EyePet coming out now was basically shown in that video, too. It just had to be developed into a product for today. They have a couple of more of those ideas in their research group, which they can turn into products. Looks like, what they didn't have back then was a product department working with research. That seams to have changed now (maybe especially so because of the pressure from Natal - and Sony realized, that they have all that already in their labs), EyePet looks like to be a real product with a proper production value based on the Eye.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 3408d ago
arsenal553409d ago


plate spinning game = PLAYSTATION 3 AVATAR

Henry Cain3409d ago

I think a lot of Sony fans have been saying how Sony came out with this first. But the 360 fans just keep on hating on Sony. We all know that Sony pushes the envelope when it come to innovation. M$ is playing catch up still. Eyetoy came out in 2002. Thats why most Sony fans were not impress with Natal at E3.

saint_john_paul_ii3409d ago (Edited 3409d ago )

simply put, everything he said in the lecture, is happening right now

Everything he showed is happening right now, from PS eye tech, to motion controls, to even Natal tech and marketing, is happening right now. this man is a genius, this guy is a prophet of god!!

DelbertGrady3409d ago

Pushing the envelope you say? Microsoft released their Sidewinder Freestyle Pro controller in 1998. It took Sony 8 years to come up with the SixAxis. And the Sidewinder is probably more accurate too.

D4RkNIKON3409d ago

@soda True MS may have done it first, I will give you that. But to say that 1998 tech is more accurate than the sixaxis is a joke, also I watched the video and the response time from the motion in the controller to the effect on screen is a joke.

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