Today the Game Tools and Middleware Forum 2013 was held in Tokyo and Sony Computer Entertainment Senior Vice President of the Technology Platform Teiji Yutaka held a presentation during which he introduced an interesting technology to monitor the player’s heart rate by using the PS Vita’s camera.
The new and ambitious technology can work in two ways: the first is based on the fact that the color of a person’s face changes slightly depending on his heart rate. The effect is extremely subtle, measuring only 1/100 of a bit in the RGB scale, but a demo has been developed to successfully draw a waveform of the pulse.
The second way is even more clever. Since the front camera of the PS Vita is placed near the buttons on the right, the player can place his finger on top of it and the console can measure his heart rate from the change of light passing through his skin. The variation here is of 2-3 bits, so it’s easier to detect than the other method, but the drawback is that it requires the user to keep his finger on the camera, so the usability is more limited.
Of course the technology is still in its infancy, so it’ll take time for it to be perfected, but at the very least it’ll be possible to detect if the player is in an excited state. An example was brought by mentioning one’s pulse influencing his shots in a golf game.
The tech also works with video footage, so an interesting application mentioned by Yutaka-san could be in association with the video streaming software.
What do you think? Is this tech going somewhere after Nintendo dropped its plans for the Vitality Sensor, while Microsoft is applying something similar with the new Kinect and the Xbox One? Is it going to enrich games, or maybe it’s just a gimmick? I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.