The controller could easily be one of the most important parts about a video game system. Without an easy-to-use and smoothly functioning controller, games just don't play nearly as well. But Reflex Labs may have created something new and entirely game-changing, so to speak, in the new Boogio wearable sensor system.
The Boogio shoe takes insole pressure sensors, which can in turn pack in fully 60,000 layers of pressure sensitivity measure, and backs same up with a 3D accelerometer. This combination of pressure sensitivity and spatial recognition essentially allows the user to see things like gravitational force, pressure, balance and acceleration. While right now, that only means so much—a demo was shown of a player using the Boogio to lean right and left to control a character, lean forward to fire weapons and shake a foot to stop—it's what this could mean that really counts.
Right now, alpha packages are currently available, and the beta product is expected to ship by 2015. Meanwhile, a full consumer version should be available by 2016 at the latest, though “sometime at the end of next year” is a clear possibility.”
Possibilities with this system are staggering in scope. The early word suggests that fitness gamification is one big stop, as users move in real life to mirror where characters move to, for example, walking a mile in the real world sends the character to a new level, or something comparable. Mobile gaming can also get in on this since, at last report, the system is mostly wireless and thus able to work just about anywhere. An E3 presentation, meanwhile, showed the Boogio controlling a PowerPoint presentation.
But this isn't where the real prize is.
The real prize comes if this can be connected to the Oculus Rift, or to Sony's Project Morpheus. Should that happen, then we have a very real potential for a game in which users walk in place to move around in the game itself, a nearly complete holodeck-style experience. This actually puts some substantial pressure on the Virtuix Omni, which looks to offer much the same prospect though in a giant treadmill unit. It doesn't look as though the Boogio will work like that right now, but remember that we're talking about early product here. The alpha build is just going out; we've still got beta to go before we even get to the consumer level, and the idea that shoe-based controllers could move a character around is not so outlandish.
We may well be standing on the cusp of a whole new era in gaming, that complete holodeck experience that has made us all gasp since the days of “Dactyl Nightmare” and even beyond.