Play Katamari on Your Phone (if you live in Japan)


The runaway success of the Wii has shown that it’s not necessarily the fastest processor or prettiest graphics that will entice people to make a hardware purchase; rather, people have been attracted to the Wii because it allows for a new way to interact with a gaming platform (and you don’t have to sell a kidney in order to get the cash to buy one). GestureTek hopes it can do for cell phones what the Wii did for gaming platforms by introducing motion-sensing technology to mobile handsets.
While the Wii uses a gyro, GestureTek’s software-based approach, called the EyeMobile Engine, doesn’t require any additional hardware. The company’s chief technology officer, Francis MacDougall, explained that while a gyro excels at capturing large motions (swinging a bat, for example) the EyeMobile Engine is better able to pick up finer motions. Additionally, since the EyeMobile Engine doesn’t rely on any hardware, it can be utilized in smaller handsets and added to phones already on the market.

If you’re in North America, you can see the tech in a couple of games available on Verizon V-Cast phones: 3D Tilt-a-Whirl and Camera Phone Darts , and though they look like entertaining diversions, they’re not likely to cause anyone to go out and buy a new handset.

Consumers in Japan, however, have some more intriguing options. GestureTek has signed a deal to make its tech exclusively available in Japan on two DoCoMo handsets, and about 68 games are planned for launch, the biggest titles being mobile versions of Crash Bandicoot and Katamari Damacy . It’s a few apps that are still on the horiozon— web and map browsing—though that will really sell this tech. MacDougall and John Vincent, president of GestureTek said they have seen a map demo of the Tokyo subway system that uses the EyeMobile Engine and expect map-browsing apps to be available later this year.
In North America, the EyeMobile Engine should be available for Windows Mobile smartphones this summer, with more apps released throughout the year.

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Katamari Damacy is now available on two handsets in Japan. GestureTek in in negoitiations to bring the game to the united States.

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