Typing with a Controller Patent

 Controller Concept in Question
So I find myself as the top commenter on a reddit topic where someone previously posted about an ingenious control scheme for inputing text with a game controller that was essentially a ripoff of what was used in the original Killzone (video). Here we are a few months later, and they've posted another topic revisiting the "innovative" idea (that was pointed out as not being innovative month prior in their previous topic) with a video, further details, and claims to be in the process of patenting it. Is a control scheme for inputting text patentable in your mind? As it turns out... someone already patented the idea in 2007, but I actually don't think patents should reach as far as to include something like this.

Holding a copyright on your brand & product is one thing (and I believe should be upheld to prevent counterfeiting, etc), but being able to force people to pay a licensing fee because you spent the time to tell the patent office about some idea (that someone probably already had and very possibly wasn't selfish enough to patent it) is beyond me. Patents were originally conceived as a way to stimulate innovative thinking, but now we're seeing everything under the sun being patented without anything actually being done with them just so they can sue people later on if they happen to use that or a similar idea. Oh, great... a patent for a TV that can detect my mood... so apparently someone's job at Sony is to be high all day so they can come up with ideas for the company to own for whenever we get around to it being a good idea or even reasonably possible to make.

I'm of the mind that the developers should be able to design their game however they want, and not being able to do so because someone has different business ethics than you and is exploiting ideas for profit is fucked. We see this with Namco (I think?) owning the patent to playing a mini-game during a loading screen. So instead of everyone making loading screens bearable... we're stuck with Dragonball Z games where you catch little balls while every other game can do no more than play a video loop while loading unless they pay Namco for their absurd patent.  Someone could have patented side-scrollers so Nintendo might have decided to avoid the legalities and made Super Mario Bros a tile-based game (sorry if I made you invision that... it would've totally sucked).

This extends beyond games though. We see the Swipe keyboard app on Android phones being included at the carrier/manufacturer level due to their licensing. This is screwing over Android phone customers since the smart phone that they bought has now back to being a feature phone w/ downloadable apps since they can't get the Swipe app via the Android Market like every other app. Swipe did that in the name of profit, and the people actually buying & using the phones come second to their profitability. Doing feature phone-esque deals is within their prerogative since that's the system Google/Android has set up & allows for, but it's their patents make it so no one can make an alternative that alleviates the whole my smart phone can't do that due to a licensing deal between 2 companies I can't influence that is inflicting an arbitrary limitation on something I paid them for.

Really, should the concept of owning an idea be relevant in a time that's being referred to as the information age (wikipedia)? I'm not saying ownership of ideas should be relinquished simply due to an unearned sense of entitlement, but rather the fact that it is no longer relevant to how things work with the worldwide adoption of software, always-on connectivity, and the fact that they're reaching a level of intricacies and minute details that renders the existing system pointless & easily exploitable. Instead of being a catalyst to innovative thinking... it's breeding corruption from those looking to exploit their way to more profit rather than working for it honestly. Maybe this is something that is sorted out in the courts when they determine if the plaintiff has a valid case or not... and maybe I'm missing some aspect of the system that vindicates it... but it seems like a ridiculous system to maintain for what it does/is being used for.

PlayStation Move Impressions

I should start off by saying that I don't own a Wii, but have played it many times with friends...

Ok, here's what I got

I purchased the Sports Champions bundle, the official charging dock (usb ports are occupied by camera & headset), and played some of the Tumble demo. I would have bought a second controller, but they were sold out. I ended up avoiding the other demos that come with the Sports Champions bundle either due to my lack of interest in the game or the fact that the developers simply replaced button presses with gestures in order to make a motion game [ie. Kung Fu Rider] which then makes me question wether or not it benefits from being Move-based, because the first time you repeatedly fail to perform an action even though you seem to be doing it exactly how they explained it will cause so much frustration that you will never want to play it again.

Form & Functionality

I find that Move works really well & the level of fidelity provided is quite impressive. Sports Champions is quite fun, and I'm sure you've seen/played Wii Sports (Resort) enough to already know what the gameplay is like. The Move controller fits my hand well & seems to be an appropriate weight (not too heavy to be tiring yet not so light that it feels cheap). Even though the controller has a round design, you can set the it on a flat surface without it rolling off due to it's offset weight & trigger that protrudes enough to prevent the controller from rolling anywhere. 

Input Lag

There isn't a noticeable lag in Sports Champions, but you might notice a slight "drift" to the onscreen movements when working in a game that requires precise movements (ie. Tumble). That being said, my guess is that the "drift" is a side-effect of filtering out the "shaky hands" issue that seemed to be present in previous tech demos that show the raw output of the controller. This creates the tradeoff of providing instantaneous yet shaky vs. slight lag yet smooth input; which is a choice of the software developer, and not a reflection of the hardware. 

What about when they show you the live camera feed?

There is a brief moment in Sports Champions where the camera feed shown onscreen with an object overlaying & mimicking the controller. Basically, it takes your picture with you holding an object (frisbee, table tennis paddle, etc) after you beat the 10 opponents in each bracket in the single player mode. I didn't really notice much lag. Although I, admittedly, wasn't really paying much attention to lag at the time considering I should probably play something like Eyepet to see how well it works in a fully realized application.

Please read the following paragraph to calibrate...  

I haven't had a single occurrence of it loosing calibration in Sports Champions (even when the controller goes out of view of the camera), and you can breeze through the 3 step calibration that's required when starting up a game w/o needing to wait for the instructions so it takes all of 2 seconds to do. Tumble did have a few instances where my controller suddenly thought it was 2 feet lower than it was & required me to "center" it by pressing circle (they made it easy to correct, but it's not perfect). 

Buyer's advice

I'm going to assume that potential buyers already own a PS3 or are buying one for some other reason, because I can't imagine someone purchasing a PS3 just for the Move bundle when the Wii is a much cheaper alternative. Someone who already owns a Wii in addition to a PS3 might have a hard time justifying the price of buying the Move bundle, and should most likely wait until there's a game released for it that holds your interest. Most of what's going to be coming out early on most likely has a similar game that's already available on the Wii. However, I do think this is the best package currently available for anyone who is still interested in motion-based games or doesn't already own a Wii. 
Those unsure if Kinect will be better should obviously wait until the Kinect is finished being developed, because from what I've gathered from the various videos that are out there is that navigating menus is fidgety as hell (just as it was with the camera-only EyeToy on PS2)... and I know that would be enough to prevent me from buying it if that's still an issue when it's released (also causes me to speculate as to why they decided to add voice recognition for their menus [can't be certain if 3rd-parties will develop for voice-enabled menus at this point either]). It could be fine once it's released, and put my worries at ease (at least that's what I'm hoping for).

Why limit this tech to games?

I already owned a PS Eye (due to it's popularity in the NUI Group's dev community) so the secondary PS Eye is going to be used for a project involving Community Core Vision. With new user input devices in mind, I do hope that the Move controller itself picks up some support in the dev community so people can use existing Move controllers with their camera/webcam-equipped computer. I mean, navigating an XMB that has a lot of content is much better with the Move than via analog sticks/d-pad. For those that don't want to use a controller for interaction, people are already developing for two side-by-side usb cameras that then enables Kinect-like capabilities on a computer. 
It would be a shame to see new ways of interacting with technology be limited to entertainment (considering that we're nearing / have reached the fidelity that one would hope for when interacting with an application on their computer). However, I am perfectly fine with the entertainment industry picking up the tab for the research/development/manufacturing of the standardized hardware though :-) 


This is the best motion-based tech that's currently available. Your feelings about playing Wii will probably transfer over to what you think about the Move in the same way that your feelings about playing EyeToy on PS2 will probably transfer over to what you think about Kinect... higher fidelity versions of past tech that introduces depth perception. The Move does take a slightly different approach though, because it provides both the camera & controller input whereas the alternatives offer one or the other. 
[edit: added links & fixed grammar]