While controller-less motion services were a massive story in 2011, Microsoft Kinect absolutely dominated and continued to dominate the landscape as the only game in town, but that's set to change with the LG 3D Gesture Cam.
LG has decided to enter the fray with its own motion sensing device which connects to your TV and will allow 3D motion-controlled gaming, UI control for LG's Smart TVs, 3G video conferencing and eventually voice control.
The device remains in an early iteration and the only aspect we were able to test during a sneak peak around the LG stand at CES was smartphone classic Fruit Ninja, in 3D on a 47-inch LG 3D Cinema-equipped display. Time to get slashing.
LG 3D Gesture Cam: Build
The LG 3D Gesture Cam isn't trying to fool anyone. It looks just like Kinect for Xbox, with the Wall-E like lenses on the front of the device and the same slim form-factor. The design is slightly different though. LG's effort has more defined edges, isn't quite as elongated and boasts a two-tone black and silver colour scheme.
LG 3D Gesture Cam: Performance
As we mentioned, the only piece of functionality we were able to get hands-on with at CES was a 3D iteration of the popular Android and iOS game Fruit Ninja. This time, instead of swiping with our fingers we were flailing at all manner of fruit with both hands.
Calibrating the device was a simple enough process. We just had to stand with both hands raised, in the same way you do at the more modern x-ray machines at airports. Hopefully the Gesture Cam wasn't taking snapshots of our tackle and filtering them up to a little room upstairs.
Once we were calibrated, we were able to begin swiping. While it was really cool seeing 3D fruits flying around the place and splattering in glorious 3D Cinema, the experience of slashing them itself was hit and miss. We found it difficult to be even remotely precise with our wild flailing appearing at random points on the screen.
This is, of course an early implementation of the device and there's always the possibility that we were simply doing it wrong.
An LG representative told us that there were three other games in production, one of which was a motorcycle game that we eventually established (due to some language barrier problems) was called Trial Extreme and two more yet to be revealed.
Games will be downloadable from LG's Smart TV app store.
LG 3D Gesture Cam: Skype
LG says it hopes to launch the device around the middle of the year and has a number of goals it is working towards with that in mind. Like Kinect, it aims to use gestures to control LG Smart TVs and also, as Microsoft recently announced for Kinect, will allow full voice navigation around an LG Smart TV, thanks to the four microphones built into the peripheral. It'll also pair up with LG's Magic Remote.
The Gesture Cam also comes with full Skype integration, meaning you'll be able to video conference with your pals. The most newsworthy aspect of that comes through the 3D capabilities. Those with 3D-enabled TVs will be able to see you in their living room in glorious 3D.
LG 3D Gesture Cam: Verdict
Although we saw a very limited iteration of what this device could offer, it's clear that LG sees the Gesture Cam as a competitor to Kinect. Its aims to focus on helping you navigate around your device through gesture and voice resonates with what Microsoft hopes Kinect will become.
Gaming obviously won't boast the same quality experience but by bringing simple games like Fruit Ninja to Smart TVs and doing so in 3D, there's the opportunity for some really fun time killers on a smartphone-quality level.
Obviously this is a work in progress with LG saying that features like 3G video calling and voice control will come as time goes on. It may be that the first iteration does not include them.
Anyway, it's good to see LG join Microsoft in an attempt to carry the gesture control ball a little further.
LG 3D Gesture Cam: Price and availability
No pricing has been an announced, but the LG representative we spoke with on the stand said he hopes the device will be on sale in June or July 2012.