Sony wants to make the motion control technology behind Move even more accessible and “hackable” than Microsoft’s Kinect.
When Kinect came out a few months after Sony’s Move controllers, there was a flurry of activity to break down the technology to do all kinds of wondrous things. At first, Microsoft balked at people subverting their tech, but quickly realized that the excitement and innovation was a net positive for their new brand. Meanwhile, Sony’s technology, while being much more accurate than Kinect or Wii, only had some guys prove that the Earth rotated using a Move controller. After Microsoft announced that it would offer a full driver so that engineers could tinker with the Kinect freely, Sony countered with the Move.Me program announced at GDC 2011. John McCutchan, senior engineer at Sony Computer Entertainment of America, that Move.Me will be an application that runs through PlayStation Network and will hopefully foster the same kind of experimentation we’ve seen with Kinect.
“Move.Me is a server application runs on the PS3,” McCutchan said. “It sends the complete state of the PlayStation Move and navigation controllers to the PC, giving you the exact same data that licensed developers typically have access to.”
Why didn’t Sony release a full set of drivers to allow people to tinker on their PC like Microsoft did with Kinect? Well, because not everyone uses Windows. “If we release drivers, we’re limiting who potentially can use it,” he said. “If we released a Windows driver, we’d be tying people to Windows. Lots of people use Mac these days, or non-traditional operating systems like Android and iOS; the amount of engineering resources required to develop drivers for all these different operating systems just wouldn’t be feasible.”
That doesn’t mean Sony won’t support developers directly with some open source example applications. “We have some libraries and sample applications written in C# and C which we’re going to put up on Google code, licensed with no restrictions, and people can just take that and run with it. We’ll also open a forum for the community to share sample code, contribute to other developers’ work and help all of us make some cool apps.”
While McCutchan is certainly hopeful that “something that I could never have possibly imagined” will result from Move.Me, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. The reason that Kinect was played with by engineers was because it wasn’t tied to a console. Plugging it into a computer via USB allowed all kinds of innovation that had nothing to do with the Xbox. By forcing people to run the PS3 to do something with Move.Me just doesn’t seem to offer the same amount of freedom.
You can’t put a PS3 on a robot.