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Crushing on PNI Sensor Corp

I'd love to give an unbiased review of SpacePoint, PNI's 9-axis motion tracker module for games, but I can't.  At CES they were demoing their motion tracking module with a gun controller and a first person shooter custom game.  They put that controller in my hands, and as I leaned forward, my avatar moved forward.  As I leaned backward, my avatar moved backward.  The pointing technology was accurate, and very responsive.  I was in love almost immediately.

See, their pointer technology is the most accurate I've experienced for a pointer controller.  I could point the controller in an intuitive manner, and it aimed at and hit the right targets with little drift.  Given a bit more practice, I doubt there would be any drift at all, a hypothesis I’m more than willing to test out (was that too strong of a hint?).

But this is basically tech that anyone will be able to pick up and use accurately. Their demo included a gun controller with a joystick next to the trigger to make looking around within the game environment super easy and intuitive.  Forward and backward movements are done by slightly leaning forward or backward, something that anyone could easily take to.

I can see something like this being very popular with friends who want to play Halo together, and I hope someone in the future makes a controller like this that could work with Tribes (a flying game).

The software likely can easily handle two pointers in a split screen method, though any more than that and you would probably want a multiscreen layout, which works pretty well for team play (Wouldn’t want the opposing team to see your strategy or hiding spots).

We probably won't see PNI's take on a gun controller for Nintendo any time soon, but maybe by the end of this year we'll see something on the market with one of the new Android consoles, and by 2014 maybe we might see something for the next gen Xbox or PS4.

Their development module, called the SpacePoint Scout, includes a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis geomagnetic sensor, and a 3-axis gyroscope along with their sensor fusion algorithm.  And if you’ve played with the Nintendo Wii U GamePad, then you’ve experienced the same geomagnetic sensor the SpacePoint Scout comes with.  PNI claims it has 15 times the resolution and 16 times less noise than other magnetic sensors on the market today.

Semico has a large portfolio of MEMS reports, including our recent Sensor Fusion report that discusses PNI Sensor Corp.