Microsoft is in talks to buy out the Israeli 3D camera technology company “3DV Systems” for a proposed $35 million dollars.
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3DV has raised $38.6 million dollars in funding since it’s inception in 1997 that focuses on selling a unique consumer video camera called the Z-Cam. The Z-Cam mounts to any TV set or computer monitor and allows users to “use your body freely to control games, no wearables required, no limitations attached” and can also be used for a number of other applications from car safety to video conferencing.
According to Crunch Gear, 3DV acknowledges that Sony’s Eye Toy, Micorosoft’s Vision camera, and the Nintendo Wii’s Wii Remote & Nunchuck with Sensor Bar are somewhat similar ideas to their Z-Cam but they say that “the revolution is still around the corner.”
“Move your hand, leg, head or finger, in any direction and setting, moving quickly or making fine, minor movement – all these gestures are easily detected and understood by the system, creating a unique personalized and immersive gaming experience. This experience is complemented by the ability to combine your own 3D image inside the game scene, in real-time.”
Here is a demonstration of the Z-Cam in action by IGN’s Matt Casamassina.
As far as other applications for the Z-Cam, they include:
* Video Conferencing: The Z-Cam can allow users who are video conferencing to control applications by using a number of intuitive hand and head gestures along with providing face recognition as a password instead of having to type in text. Which sounds very futuristic. It also can allow the user to change their background with different scenes, although that feature isn’t new in other webcams.
* Automotive Safety: The Z-Cam could be used in cars to detect fatigue and to control airbag deployment.
* Robotics: The Z-Cam can help in robotics by being used on the robots themselves to provide depth cues that would be useful in the robots being able to detect obstacles and navigate challenging environments.
Naturally, it’s to be seen whether Microsoft would use all of the features of the Z-Cam but it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to see them take on the Eye Toy with their own games or to use the Z-Cam’s videoconferencing features for the Xbox 360.