The image of what is claimed to be a Sony PlayStation 4 development kit reveals a couple of unidentified elements that resemble sensors or cameras. Until now, Sony offered PlayStation Eye separate camera for its consoles that worked with select titles, but keeping in mind the success of Kinect, it looks like the new PlayStation system may come bundled with a compulsory set of sensors.
The alleged PlayStation 4 development kit which photo has been published by Destructoid web-site resembles a desktop personal computer with a slot-loading optical disc drive, three buttons with eject, reset and power in/off functions, two presumably USB 3.0 ports on the front as well as a number of LEDs that display current system activity (access hard drive/optical drive, data transfer via Wi-Fi) and potentially monitor CPU core load and/or show error codes. In addition, the devkit has two rectangular elements placed symmetrically on sides of the front panel. When magnified, the objects seem to be covered with glass or transparent plastic and feature two or three rounded components inside, which look like cameras or image sensors.
In case the rectangular elements are indeed sensors and the box is actually a PlayStation 4 “Orbis” (not Xbox Next “Durango”) development kit, then Sony may be working on a motion sensing technology similar to Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect.
The three-dimensional motion sensing capability is relatively easy to implement from hardware point of view. Kinect features two infrared depth sensors as well as a standard RGB camera. The Depth information is captured by emitting pulses of infra-red light to all objects in the scene and sensing the reflected light from the surface of each object. All objects in the scene are then arranged in layers according to the distance information sensed by the D pixels in the camera, providing the Depth information in real time as standard black and white video where the grey-level correlates to relative distance. Color data is provided using a normal color imaging sensor.
Every black rectangular object on the devkit seems to have one RGB sensor, one or two IR sensors (two would provide better depth accuracy) and/or one high-speed PlayStation Eye-like sensor. In case the objects are indeed three-dimensional motion sensors, then two of them will likely provide very high tracking precision for the new PlayStation.
The rumours about better motion-sensing technology on the PlayStation 4 have been floating around for some time and two sensors on the PS4 devkit seem to confirm them. What is unlikely is that the motion sensors will be integrated into the console’s front panel as this will eliminate ability to install the PlayStation both horizontally and vertically. The final set of sensors will probably be incorporated into standalone devices akin to PS Eye or Kinect.
Sony did not comment on the news-story.