The PlayStation Vita certainly packs in enough technological capabilities, with its impressive hardware and almost-rejected back-panel touch pad. Now, at the Game Tools & Middleware Forum 2011, based in Tokyo, Sony unveiled their facial recognition program which is still a work-in-progress. During the demo, the Vita was used to track heads during a live chat session between two users.
While the actual head-tracking worked flawlessly, swiveling and turning with the presenter on stage and his compatriot, it was clear that the decision to add the ability to track blinks needs some work. There were noticable half-blinks and strange eye mechanics that stood out, but if the facial recognition receives the needed polish, it’ll become an impressive feature that many webcam programs themselves haven’t had the gusto to attempt.
The facial recognition feature, while perfect for chatting with friends and putting on a silly avatar or two, isn’t just for communication, Gaming developers are excited to get to work with the technology, which will be added to the Source Development Kit as soon as it passes its last stages of development. Of course, this means no games are confirmed to use the technology at the moment, but it opens a lot of possibilities in what is likely Sony’s attempt to combat the live-environment gaming potential of the Nintendo 3DS.
On a more simplistic level, it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine playing Metal Gear Solid and having the camera pan a bit forward if you lean in, or a 2D sidescroller pivot to the left and right. Likewise, you can imagine several games will be made specifically for the head tracking, though we’re still in for quite a wait before anything is announced.
It’s not known how long the technology will take to be fully developed and added to the SDK, but we expect it’ll be a usable feature ready for the launch of the Vita itself, which is still yet to be announced. Facial recognition opens the door for many unique gaming opportunities, and in tandem with what our impressions of the PS Vita were, looks to complete a very solid portable console. It’s not without its issues (as goes with any gaming device), but we won’t complain about more features.
What kind of games do you think will be developed to utilizing the Vita’s facial recognition?