Two new Xbox games have been released that allow players to control some of the gameplay simply by speaking instructions.
Xbox Live players have been able to talk to each other during game play since the service was launched 18 months ago, but this is the first time Xbox players have been able to control the games functions.
Rainbow Six 3 and SWAT: Global Strike Team are by different games developers but both make use of the voice recognition features that are built into the Xbox developers kit (XDK), making these features available to any games developer. Voice recognition specialist, Fonix, is the supplier of the technology behind it.
Reviews of the games have spoken about how it initially feels strange giving commands to your TV, but when they get past this short-lived barrier found the game play significantly enhanced. It just feel like an natural extension and is particularly useful in games needing control of remote squad of people.
While it is not the first time voice recognitions has been used in video game play, the verdict is generally that this is the best implementation seen to date.
Recently there has been an expansion in the ways to interact with computer consoles. Sony EyeToy, which has been available in the UK for a number of months but that has just been released in the US, being the most notable by introduces players to new ways of interfacing to a game. By placing a camera on top of the TV and plugging it into the PlayStation, the player is able to move their arms, head and other parts of their body, controlling the computer-generated objects in the EyeToy games on the screen. EyeToy is a current favourite at the Digital Lifestyles office and we can see significant expansion in the use of this specific device, in areas such as keep fit training.
Both the voice recognition and the EyeToy are just steps away from the long-standard console interface, the games controller. We feel it is inevitable that additional ways of getting your computer or console to understand what you want or need will become normal, particularly within the home where keyboards and mice are both restrictive and clumsy object to have sitting around waiting to be used.