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Analysis Hardware Platform Looking back at PlayStation's Camera-Based experiments

Jubenhimer

Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,668
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Ever since the PS2, Sony has had the strangest fetish for camera peripherals and camera-based gameplay. All PlayStation Consoles since have introduced some form of Camera you can purchase, alongside a series of novel, if a bit shallow games to use them with. So let's look at all the ways PlayStation has used the camera over the years.

EyeToy

This is where it all began. The EyeToy was released in NA in November of 2003, and was actually developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, rather than the main SCEI in Japan at the time. For a short lived add-on, it actually did okay, selling 10 million units worldwide and supporting more than 70 PlayStation 2 games, roughly 1/3rd of which required the device outright. The EyeToy is a no-frills, USB Webcam for the PS2 with a low-res lens and a cheap microphone. It might be basic, but it was all about how software utilized it, and in some cases, it was pretty impressive. Most of the games that were designed for the device were basic minigame collections that were kind of meh, but there were was also EyeToy Groove, a music game similar to Elite Beat Agents. Perhaps the most ambitious EyeToy game, was EyeToy Antigrav from Harmonix. A hoverboard racer, that used full body tracking, offering a sort of pseudo Kinect experience. EyeToy was fun as a novelty, and while it wasn't a massive success, it was enough of a base for the next PlayStation generation.

PlayStation Eye

The Successor to the EyeToy for the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation Eye was similarly, a no-frills USB webcam for the console. Unlike EyeToy though, Sony's use of it was more controlled, with few if any games using the device on its own. There was however, one game that used the camera in a rather novel way, one that no other game has really done before or since. The Eye of Judgement.


Developed internally by Sony's Japan Studio, in collaboration with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, The Eye of Judgement was a TCG game, similar to the ones clogging up PC and mobile these days, but with a twist. It revolves around actual physical trading cards, complete with a play mat for the battle field, that were released in booster packs and sets from 2007 to 2008. The PS Eye is mounted on top of an included stand, tall enough for the camera to see the whole playfield. When you play a card, you place it onto the mat and the camera will scan it into the game, rendering your summon in glorious PS3 HD on the screen. It was weird, ambitious, and kind of gimmicky. But its fascinating, and worth looking into if you like that Nintendo-esque, experimental side of PlayStation.

After the rough early years of the PS3, Sony wasn't quite done with PS Eye just yet. In fact, the device was going to play a key role in an ambitious new project in development at Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation Move.



Sony's ill-faded answer to the runaway success of Nintendo's Wii platform, PS Move was an extension of the PlayStation 3, who's motion control implementations were up to that point, limited to the Spotty SIXAXIS gimmicks plastered on to so many of the console's early games. Move was a more tangible motion control experiment. The controller's defining feature, was its spherical illuminated pointer, that is used in conjunction with the PS Eye, to determine the controller's position and location within a 3D space, which its programable colors also give visual feedback in games. It's similar to how the Wii Remote's pointer works. The Wii Remote has a low-res camera hidden behind an IR filter, that can only see an IR light source. The "Sensor Bar" doesn't actually sense anything, it's just a series of IR LEDs that the controller can track as a reference point. Move takes that concept and uses it in reverse, the light source is on the controller, while the camera acts as the sensor. The pointer's spherical design, combined with magnometers and gyro sensors, allowed Sony's controller to be a more advanced motion platform that the comparatively simple tech behind the Wiimote. There weren't that many games that used the PS Eye visuals, in conjunction with the Move. But there was one ambitious experiment Sony tried late in the console's life... And it ended up being one of PlayStation's biggest flops yet. Wonderbook.


Wonderbook was a short lived line of AR-based interactive children's books developed by Sony London. That used the Move controller in combination with the PS Eye to deliver short books and stories that are displayed on the TV by reading a series of QR-encoded pages from the physical books. There's only 4 books in the series, Book of Spells by J.K. Rowling, Walking With Dinosuars based on the BBC special, Diggs Nightcrawler, and Book of Potions. Once again, its this weird, ambitious, Nintendo-ish side of PlayStation that pops up every now and again, I like that on occasion. The problem with Wonderbook was that

A. It released far too late in the PS3's life for anybody to care about, the PS4 was only a year away.
B. The PlayStation Move wasn't all that successful to begin with, so it's tied to a device nobody really wanted.
C. The audience of the PlayStation 3 was simply incompatible with this type of product. It really is more like something you'd expect from Nintendo, a largely family-friendly name known for wacky peripherals and software like this. Not PlayStaiton, a brand heavily associated with older gamers.

I appreciate the ambition here though, and The PS Move and Eye are both some of the more interesting things of that generation.

PSP/PS Vita Camera

Not even the handhelds were safe from Sony's Camera experiments. The PSP, late in its life, received a very peculiar accessory in the form of an attachable camera that plugged into the top of the unit. The game that it came with, was Invizimals.


Yet another Production of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Invizimals was a short-lived series of Mon games for the PSP and PS Vita. It seemed like Sony during this time really wanted this to be their own "Pokemon" of sorts, even commissioning a 26 episode cartoon... Yes really. Anyway, how it works is that you use the included Camera and AR marker to hunt for these "Invizimals", and use a variety of gestures and the AR marker to catch them. The rest is your typical Pokemon fare. You can battle and trade with friends, and do the whole thing over again.

There are 5 games in the series, 3 for the PSP, 2 for the PS Vita, and a lone PS3 game that was released extremely late in its life.

The PSP's successor, the PlayStation Vita, had 2 built-in cameras. One on the front of the device, and one in the back. Sony released a few AR games for the Vita to take advantage of them. Aside from the two Invizimals games, there was Reality Fighters, a launch title for the console in Europe. It's a fighting game that let's you make your own fighter by scanning your face onto a 3D body, with the actual arenas also being an Augmented display of the rear camera's feed.

PlayStation Camera

Now we get to Sony's current camera device, the Stereoscopic PlayStation Camera for the PS4. Unlike Sony's past camera devices, the PS Camera was designed to be an integral part of the PS4 experience... Kind of. Sony smartly decided against forcing it onto every PS4 user, instead making it an optional purchase at launch. The game that used this camera the most, was the built-in title, "The Playroom". You know that giant light bar on the DualShock 4 controller, the one that flashes a variety of colors whether you want it to or not? That's not just for show, the DualShock 4 was designed to be used in tandem with the PlayStation Camera, as it can track the controller's position in a 3D space, so that it can do thinks like AR, as well as simple stuff like re-arrange the split-screen order when you move the controllers around. Few, if any games used it to that extent, but The Playroom is the one game that makes full use of it. You can play simple minigames, as well as use the touchpad to fling a bunch of little robots out into the real world.

Much like the PS Eye, the PS Camera would later be repurposed for a much more complex peripheral, this time, one with a little more success, PlayStation VR.



Bringing back the Move controllers from the PS3, and combining them with an illuminated headset and the PS Camera, PSVR is probably the most successful consumer VR platform available right now, largely because it's the most affordable, and for a console that already has a built-in userbase. This is what the PS Camera was made for, a simple sensor for a complex VR set.

With the PS5, I'm actually interested in seeing what Sony does with the camera for that system next. For as gimmicky as some uses can be, they're quite ahead of the curve in this area.
 
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D.Final

Banned
Oct 18, 2018
5,109
2,779
620
Ever since the PS2, Sony has had the strangest fetish for camera peripherals and camera-based gameplay. All PlayStation Consoles since have introduced some form of Camera you can purchase, alongside a series of novel, if a bit shallow games to use them with. So let's look at all the ways PlayStation has used the camera over the years.

EyeToy

This is where it all began. The EyeToy was released in NA in November of 2003, and was actually developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, rather than the main SCEI in Japan at the time. For a short lived add-on, it actually did okay, selling 10 million units worldwide and supporting more than 70 PlayStation 2 games, roughly 1/3rd of which required the device outright. The EyeToy is a no-frills, USB Webcam for the PS2 with a low-res lens and a cheap microphone. It might be basic, but it was all about how software utilized it, and in some cases, it was pretty impressive. Most of the games that were designed for the device were basic minigame collections that were kind of meh, but there were was also EyeToy Groove, a music game similar to Elite Beat Agents. Perhaps the most ambitious EyeToy game, was EyeToy Antigrav from Harmonix. A hoverboard racer, that used full body tracking, offering a sort of pseudo Kinect experience. EyeToy was fun as a novelty, and while it wasn't a massive success, it was enough of a base for the next PlayStation generation.

PlayStation Eye

The Successor to the EyeToy for the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation Eye was similarly, a no-frills USB webcam for the console. Unlike EyeToy though, Sony's use of it was more controlled, with few if any games using the device on its own. There was however, one game that used the camera in a rather novel way, one that no other game has really done before or since. The Eye of Judgement.


Developed internally by Sony's Japan Studio, in collaboration with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, The Eye of Judgement was a TCG game, similar to the ones clogging up PC and mobile these days, but with a twist. It revolves around actual physical trading cards, complete with a play mat for the battle field, that were released in booster packs and sets from 2007 to 2008. The PS Eye is mounted on top of an included stand, tall enough for the camera to see the whole playfield. When you play a card, you place it onto the mat and the camera will scan it into the game, rendering your summon in glorious PS3 HD on the screen. It was weird, ambitious, and kind of gimmicky. But its fascinating, and worth looking into if you like that Nintendo-esque, experimental side of PlayStation.

After the rough early years of the PS3, Sony wasn't quite done with PS Eye just yet. In fact, the device was going to play a key role in an ambitious new project in development at Sony Computer Entertainment. PlayStation Move.



Sony's ill-faded answer to the runaway success of Nintendo's Wii platform, PS Move was an extension of the PlayStation 3, who's motion control implementations were up to that point, limited to the Spotty SIXAXIS gimmicks plastered on to so many of the console's early games. Move was a more tangible motion control experiment. The controller's defining feature, was its spherical illuminated pointer, that is used in conjunction with the PS Eye, to determine the controller's position and location within a 3D space, which its programable colors also give visual feedback in games. It's similar to how the Wii Remote's pointer works. The Wii Remote has a low-res camera hidden behind an IR filter, that can only see an IR light source. The "Sensor Bar" doesn't actually sense anything, it's just a series of IR LEDs that the controller can track as a reference point. Move takes that concept and uses it in reverse, the light source is on the controller, while the camera acts as the sensor. The pointer's spherical design, combined with magnometers and gyro sensors, allowed Sony's controller to be a more advanced motion platform that the comparatively simple tech behind the Wiimote. There weren't that many games that used the PS Eye visuals, in conjunction with the Move. But there was one ambitious experiment Sony tried late in the console's life... And it ended up being one of PlayStation's biggest flops yet. Wonderbook.


Wonderbook was a short lived line of AR-based interactive children's books developed by Sony London. That used the Move controller in combination with the PS Eye to deliver short books and stories that are displayed on the TV by reading a series of QR-encoded pages from the physical books. There's only 4 books in the series, Book of Spells by J.K. Rowling, Walking With Dinosuars based on the BBC special, Diggs Nightcrawler, and Book of Potions. Once again, its this weird, ambitious, Nintendo-ish side of PlayStation that pops up every now and again, I like that on occasion. The problem with Wonderbook was that

A. It released far too late in the PS3's life for anybody to care about, the PS4 was only a year away.
B. The PlayStation Move wasn't all that successful to begin with, so it's tied to a device nobody really wanted.
C. The audience of the PlayStation 3 was simply incompatible with this type of product. It really is more like something you'd expect from Nintendo, a largely family-friendly name known for wacky peripherals and software like this. Not PlayStaiton, a brand heavily associated with older, more "core" gamers.

I appreciate the ambition here though, and The PS Move and Eye are both some of the more interesting things of that generation.

PSP/PS Vita Camera

Not even the handhelds were safe from Sony's Camera experiments. The PSP, late in its life, received a very peculiar accessory in the form of an attachable camera that plugged into the top of the unit. The game that it came with, was Invizimals.


Yet another Production of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Invizimals was a short-lived series of Mon games for the PSP and PS Vita. It seemed like Sony during this time really wanted this to be their own "Pokemon" of sorts, even commissioning a 26 episode cartoon... Yes really. Anyway, how it works is that you use the included Camera and AR marker to hunt for these "Invizimals", and use a variety of gestures and the AR marker to catch them. The rest is your typical Pokemon fare. You can battle and trade with friends, and do the whole thing over again.

There are 5 games in the series, 3 for the PSP, 2 for the PS Vita, and a lone PS3 game that was released extremely late in its life.

The PSP's successor, the PlayStation Vita, had 2 built-in cameras. One on the front of the device, and one in the back. Sony released a few AR games for the Vita to take advantage of them. Aside from the two Invizimals games, there was Reality Fighters, a launch title for the console in Europe. It's a fighting game that let's you make your own fighter by scanning your face onto a 3D body, with the actual arenas also being an Augmented display of the rear camera's feed.

PlayStation Camera

Now we get to Sony's current camera device, the Stereoscopic PlayStation Camera for the PS4. Unlike Sony's past camera devices, the PS Camera was designed to be an integral part of the PS4 experience... Kind of. Sony smartly decided against forcing it onto every PS4 user, instead making it an optional purchase at launch. The game that used this camera the most, was the built-in title, "The Playroom". You know that giant light bar on the DualShock 4 controller, the one that flashes a variety of colors whether you want it to or not? That's not just for show, the DualShock 4 was designed to be used in tandem with the PlayStation Camera, as it can track the controller's position in a 3D space, so that it can do thinks like AR, as well as simple stuff like re-arrange the split-screen order when you move the controllers around. Few, if any games used it to that extent, but The Playroom is the one game that makes full use of it. You can play simple minigames, as well as use the touchpad to fling a bunch of little robots out into the real world.

Much like the PS Eye, the PS Camera would later be repurposed for a much more complex peripheral, this time, one with a little more success, PlayStation VR.



Bringing back the Move controllers from the PS3, and combining them with an illuminated headset and the PS Camera, PSVR is probably the most successful consumer VR platform available right now, largely because it's the most affordable, and for a console that already has a built-in userbase. This is what the PS Camera was made for, a simple sensor for a complex VR set.

With the PS5, I'm actually interested in seeing what Sony does with the camera for that system next. For as gimmicky as some uses can be, they're quite ahead of the curve in this area.

The good memories
 

Geki-D

Banned
Dec 6, 2017
4,134
5,172
730
Another thing worth pointing out is that the Eyetoy could pick objects set to a solid color, just like the PS Eye picked up the light on the Move.

Besides this tech demo, as far as I'm aware only one game ever came out on PS2 to actually use this:

Sony also demoed this on PS3 at the E3 reveal :

When you think about it this is actually the beginning of the road to the PSVR, as even that still uses the same technique to see the lights on the headset.

Otherwise, behind the scenes Sony were also looking into the same tech Xbox Kinect would end up using back during the PS2 days. There was a video of Richard Marks going through a tech demo of it floating around but I can't for the life of me find it anymore. If someone knows what corner of Youtube it's on and wants to link it, that would be cool.

Dr. Richard Marks, the guy who conceived everything from the Eyetoy, to the Move, to the PSVR left Sony in 2018 to work at Google.
 
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