Las Vegas—Some of the most intriguing gadgets at CES aren’t actually for sale; they’re prototypes that some wunderkid cobbled together and brought to the Big Show in hopes of catching someone’s eye (and a lucrative business deal.) The Intellect Motion is just such a device, an elaborate motion controller built by a team of medical device engineers for playing fast-paced video games with your entire body.
The prototype works by tracking the movement of a sensor attached to your body with a camera. Lean forward and the Intellect Motion tells the game to move your avatar forward; lean farther and your character moves faster. You can lean left and right to strafe sideways, jump in the air to make your character jump and use the Intellect Motion gun (which is also tracked by the camera) to look around the world and interact as you would your PC mouse. The system supports you with an elaborate body harness so you can bounce back and forth or even jump around without hurting yourself (or innocent bystanders.)
We tested the unit with an open-source first-person shooter game called Xonotic, and the experience of navigating a virtual world is a little disconcerting. Your physical body and your in-game avatar don’t really move in the same way or at the same speed; it’s not like the 1:1 ratio of real-world movement to virtual movement you get when using the Wii MotionPlus controller. It really takes some time to get used to throwing your weight around to move quickly or leaning and then jumping to get your character over in-game obstacles, and you look pretty foolish while you’re learning the ropes. Unfortunately, the only place you might ever find one of these crazy contraptions is in an arcade or other gaming center; you’ll probably never be able to buy an Intellect Motion for home use.