The tiny kung-fu fighters are attacking again. Fortunately, my best mate's gran has seen them and is merrily swatting them away with her hands, her hairdo and a teaspoon. Five minutes ago, she had never played a computer game. Now she's just beaten my high score. \nIt takes a lot to shock a room full of games developers, but Richard Marks did just that in 1999 with his creation, EyeToy. When he stepped up to the stage at the Sony Europe developer conference, the main screen was filled with asterisks. He stood in front of a camera and calmly wiped them all away with his hand. The room fell silent. \n"We all looked at each other and said `which one of us is going to develop this?'" remembers Mike Haigh, now EyeToy development director. The group that got the chance was Sony Camden, which later became part of Sony London Studios. Marks, an American who built cameras for underwater robots, moved to the UK and started working with Sony Camden on the technology. \nThe standard PlayStation 2 (PS2) controller has 15 buttons. The Xbox has 11. The EyeToy has none. It is a small camera that, once plugged into a PS2, displays on the screen an image of you surrounded by bright computer graphics. Buttons on the screen are pressed by waving your hands over them. \nEverything works exactly how it would in the real world -- at least, how it would if you were as flat as the TV screen. Dirty windows can be wiped clean. Bubbles can be burst with your finger. A ball can be kept in the air with your head (or your elbow, or your tongue). \nFor perhaps the first time in the history of computing, things behave exactly as they should. There is no interface gap -- no character represents you, because there you are on the screen, waving your arms and moving things in front of you. No instruction manual. \nJust plug in and start to play. And it makes a great party game. \n"It involves a very natural interface -- body movement," said Gonzalo Frasca, a researcher in computer games at the IT University of Copenhagen. "So even people who have never played computer games feel they can give it a try. EyeToy did to my wife what seven years of marriage to a videogame researcher could not: get her into videogames." \nThe first EyeToy game, Play, came out in winter last year and was an instant success. Unusually for a computer game, it kept on selling -- more than 4 million at the last count. \nThe more people played it at others' houses, the more they wanted a copy of their own. And not all were in the usual games player demographic. \n"When we trialed it at a games event, we had no idea we would get grandparents and mothers playing," says Ron Festajo, creative director of EyeToy. \n"Normally, the parents would be sitting around talking, while the children played with the controllers. But when they saw their children washing windows with their hands, they were saying `let me show you how it's done, you haven't got a clue how to wash windows.' The parents were competing against their children. \n"That's when we knew we had something special," he said. \nA lot of the magic came from that launch game, which was like nothing people had played before -- and yet was simple enough for everyone to try. \n"If we'd launched it as the obvious Webcam -- it's a camera, it sits on your PS2 and the killer app [application] is that you can see your friends and family across the world -- I don't think it would have been anywhere near as successful," says Haigh. "It's too obvious. It needed something that sparked the imagination." \nTo help develop the platform, Sony has made the device's development coding freely available. Chat is now available, as are plenty of third-party games. In the new year, Sony will release Kinetic -- an EyeToy personal exercise trainer developed with Nike. It uses a wider lens add-on to provide a full-body workout. \nSony London is also developing EyeToy for the forthcoming PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld, while Marks is playing with depth-sensitive cameras which, depending on per-unit cost, may or may not emerge on the PlayStation 3. \nMeanwhile, the success of EyeToy means that both Nintendo and Microsoft are reportedly developing their own versions for the next generation of consoles available next year. PC and Mac Webcam games are also now appearing. ToySight, for example, was developed in Newcastle, and uses Apple's iSight camera to play EyeToy-like minigames. \nCamera play is becoming a platform of its own, but the technology behind these games is nothing remarkable -- they could probably have been created years ago. It needed someone to take the risk and prove it could be successful.
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities. Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (小米) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region,” but can be turned on remotely at any time,
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the
CLOSE COOPERATION: A House of Representatives bill suggests inviting Taiwan’s navy to participate in the world’s largest international maritime military exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed its annual defense policy bill, which includes provisions recommending that Taiwan be included in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhanced cooperation between Taiwan and the US National Guard. The House approved the US$777.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in a 316-113 vote. The 1,390-page bill includes three major provisions related to Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248. Section 1248 recommends that the US invite Taiwan’s navy to participate in next year’s RIMPAC. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the event, which is the world’s largest