May 19, 2009

Microsoft Patent Spurs Rumors Of ‘Magic Wand’ To Rival Wii

Newly-released patent applications from Microsoft Corp. have sparked rumors that the company plans to unveil a competitive offering to Nintendo's Wii remote during the upcoming E3 expo in Los Angeles.

However, the software giant said it will not "comment on speculation" about any such launch.

In 2007, Microsoft filed an application for a motion controller called the Magic Wand, which would interact with "a collection of sensors".

The application also explains "biometric sensors" that could examine "fingerprint, hand geometry, hand vein pattern, palm pattern, and grip configuration" in addition to "facial thermogram, a facial feature, a retinal feature, or an iris feature".

"I have no doubt they are going to try and do something, although it remains to be seen how they do it, said Gavin Ogden, from gaming site c&vg.com, in an interview with BBC News.

Microsoft needs to "jump on the motion sensor bandwagon," he said.

"We thought they were going to show something off at the E3 Expo in 2007 - some sort of waggle stick - but nothing materialized," he added.

"There was talk, a long time ago, about mapping people's faces on to characters," Ogden said.

"However, there were concerns that people would stick real faces on it - such as Gordon Brown - and then spend all day shooting them. The world wasn't ready for that."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has provided vague hints about such a development.

"Pay attention to the stuff we're announcing in the next month on Xbox," he said during a speech to the Dallas Regional Chamber in early May.

Indeed, the industry will be eagerly awaiting any surprises Microsoft may launch at the Los Angeles expo in June.


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