If you thought the Kinect was a brilliant step forward in 3D sensing and you were enthralled by the possibilities of hand gestures with the Leap Motion, then you might be interested in what the iMotion 3D motion controller has to offer. A small rounded rectangular device that fits onto your hand like a glove, the iMotion is composed of accelerometers, gyroscopes and three LED sensors that will communicate with any standard web cam to locate your body in 3D space. There's no special sauce to it either; as long as you have the iMotion software on your computer, you're able to use the controller with pretty much any application. However, iMotion does plan on releasing an SDK so that developers can fine-tune their app or game to enable additional features of the iMotion, such as better precision and haptic feedback.
The technology was initially developed a few years ago by Intellect Motion, a company based out of Singapore, for medical purposes like sports rehabilitation. A year ago however, it started to delve into the gaming side of things and came up with the prototype device you see above. Now the company is ready to move on to the next stage, and that's to launch the device on Kickstarter and get the iMotion out to the public. Join us after the break to get our early hands-on impressions, a video of it in action and more details of the Kickstarter campaign.
We found using the iMotion to be fairly intuitive. We slipped the controller onto our hands, and all of a sudden we were moving the cursor by waving our hand around. To left-click, we simply closed our fingers to cover the top LED; you can calibrate it so that only a partial covering will suffice. There are also additional buttons on the side of the iMotion that can simulate a right-click or center button. We should note, however, that it does take a little bit of getting used to. Our arm did feel a bit of fatigue after holding it up for awhile, and we had to remember to place our controller so that it was within line of sight of the camera. After a few sessions of Angry Birds though, we felt like we had a good sense of how to control it.
Alex Khromenkov, one of Intellect Motion's co-founders, also demonstrated the iMotion with an open source first-person shooter called Xonotic. He showed that you can move around the space by positioning your hand closer or further away from the camera. Another very intriguing use of the iMotion is to pair it with the Oculus Rift. Instead of using an Xbox controller or the Razer Hydra, you can move around the virtual space naturally just by attaching an iMotion to your body. Khromenkov suggested using one iMotion on your belt buckle for movement and another iMotion on your hands for picking up and using objects as in the photo above.
The controller was a bit large for our small hands, though Khromenkov tells us that the final version will have adjustable Velcro straps. On the underside of the iMotion are four vibrating pads which are there to provide haptic feedback. As mentioned earlier though, that's only available if developers have incorporated the iMotion SDK into the app or game. They can set it so that the controller vibrates to let you know which direction you're getting shot at in an FPS, or to let you know if you've gone out of bounds in a virtual environment. Khromenkov tells us that over 100 developers have already signed on for the SDK, so hopefully we'll see even more usage examples of the iMotion.
In order to get the iMotion into consumer's hands, the company has started a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign. Early bird pricing for the first 100 is set at $49, the next 2000 sold will be $59 each, while the final retail price should be around $79. Anyone who buys a controller will get access to the aforementioned SDK, which will let devs create iMotion-compatible apps for the Mac, PC or Linux. If that sounds like a great idea to you, feel free to check out the source link below to show your support.
Intellect Motion Launches Kickstarter Campaign for iMotion
Advanced Motion Control Device Delivers Haptic Feedback and works out of the box with Mouse and Keyboard Driven Games
SINGAPORE – September 27, 2013 – Intellect Motion, a company focused on delivering motion control devices that deliver haptic feedback, today announced its Kickstarter campaign to fund the final prototype stages and production of its first product, the iMotion. The iMotion gives users the ability to interact with games and Apps in 3D space utilizing any standard webcam, while providing haptic feedback within titles that implement the iMotion Software Developers Kit (SDK). The device works with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android systems as well as the Oculus Rift.
The campaign is now live at: LINK and the company is asking supporters to pledge at any level to help fund the project. The pledge levels expected to be the most popular include a single iMotion controller for the first 100 people via an early bird promotion for just $49. Once the early bird version has sold out, the next tier of iMotions will be available at $59. The overall project funding goal is $100,000. If the project is successful, the first units are expected to reach early bird supporters in February 2014.
"We've created a project that will deliver a unique interface device that is both affordable and responsive, while featuring very low latency for a high performance experience that outpaces even the most advanced motion control devices available today for the average consumer," said Alex Khromenkov, CEO/CTO of Intellect Motion. "With haptic feedback provided to the user's palm, interaction within 3D spaces, virtual environments, and even web browsing takes on a new dimension. We know people are going to enjoy the immersiveness of the experience that iMotion provides."
Everyone who purchases an iMotion will have access to the SDK meaning anyone with the device could develop for the platform without needing to pay anything else. Additional tiers provide greater access to development resources, and multi-packs of iMotions since the system can support up to four iMotions at once.
Users simply strap the iMotion controller to their hand, similar to a glove, and they're ready to control PC or mobile devices with intuitive, natural gestures. The iMotion is compatible with existing games and applications, and allows users to replace keyboard and mouse commands with gesture controls. All that's needed is the iMotion controller and the free SDK (downloadable from the company's website).
The iMotion controller has three LED lights to establish the body's position in 3D space. It determines the x, y and z coordinates as well as the angle of rotation and plane of elevation. iMotion also features a gyroscope and accelerometer, so people can use it at any angle and achieve a very high level of accuracy and performance for action games and applications.
Features and Key Specs:
The only motion controller that supports full 3D motion control
Can replace your mouse and keyboard with a virtual touch screen
4-channel haptic motion feedback sensor
Functional range of 1 to 16 feet
Supports applications operating at up to 100 frames per second (with a high-end camera)
Pinpoint accuracy of 0.08 inches and low latency of 10 to 20 milliseconds
About Intellect Motion Founded in 2012, Intellect Motion is a dedicated team of hardware and software engineers, computer scientists and creative designers that are looking to change and enhance how people interact with their computers and other devices. Based in Singapore, and with a Research & Development team in Minsk, Belarus, Intellect Motion is bringing haptic feedback motion control to the masses.