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Xbox 360 “Newton” Motion Sensing Controller Confirmed

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I can now confirm the existence of the Xbox Wiimote clone project and I can tell you the project code name : “Newton

The “Newton” controller’s code name is after the physicist Sir Isaac Newton. The internal Microsoft engineering code name is for this controller is “Newton” as in Newtonian Physics relating to gravity, inertia and acceleration. This is not to be confused with the defunct Apple Newton PDA, this is just and internal name, when this controller comes to market it will have a retail name.

The hardware is still being worked on and it might be a couple months before we see leaked shots of prototypes when they start to mass manufacture it but I am sure that there is an early software developer kit and prototype out there.

Nintendo is not the first company to make something like the Wiimote. The concept for the Wiimote has been called a 3d Mouse or a “Flying Mouse”. There is a company called Gyration that makes wireless controllers and is an early innovator in these kind of controllers. Gyration owns a lot of applicable patents for motion-sensing controllers and in 2001 Nintendo hired the company to help them design a motion sensing one handed controller that eventually became the Wiimote.

Nintendo is an investor in Gyration but they don’t own it. In 2001 Nintendo licensed patents from Gyration and used it to develop the Wii. They are US application patents 5898421 and 5440326 which are about a device tracking human motion and translating it into linear movement of computer graphic images. So Nintendo does not wholly own all the patents involved in the Wiimote.

Take a look at the awesome infomercial for Gyration’s wireless mouse.

Microsoft is rumored to have licensed patents from Gyration and are using them to develop their motion sensing Wiimote controller. Legally Microsoft is not ripping off Nintendo but rather licensing the technology from the same place that Nintendo got it. For an example the Guitar Hero and Rockband controllers both use the same patent that is owned by Konami that they developed for Guitar Freaks.

Back in January there was a notice for a job at Microsoft for a hardware test engineer that drops some big tips about the “Newton” project.

From what I’ve learned from internal sources at Microsoft I can collaborate that the Newton project is moving forward and I can believe the time table that it has been in development for a while now and they could get it on the market by winter of 2008. The Newton is also going to use an LED sensor bar that can be powered by the USB ports on the 360, it is going to have an LED sensor on the front accelerometer and gyroscope sensor that can detect tilt and motion, rumble motors, wireless two way data communication with the 360, a built in Microphone for Xbox Live and voice-activated games.

If you cross the Gyration patents with Gyration existing product line, the Wiimote and the Job posting for a hardware test engineer, the reports about Rare (a Microsoft owned game studio) working on a XBLA game, The MTV report and my internal sources I can make some well informed estimation about the “Newton” controller

I have a good feeling that it might retail for 50 or 40 around the same price as a Wiimote and it might come with a 5 by 5 download code for the Conkers : Fast and the Furriest Xbox Live arcade game as a “Pack In” that can be downloaded after buying the stick much like how a code for Uno came with the Xbox Live Vision camera.

I have a feeling that there already is a clue about the final design of the “Newton” controller on the market right now and millions of Xbox gamers literally have it in their hands. I have a good feeling that the Xbox Play & Charge battery pack is going to fit on the bottom of the “Newton” controller. That would mean that it is going to be curved, about and inch wide and powered by two AA batteries or an equivalently recharge kit. The Xbox Wireless Racing wheel also can use the Play & Charge kit and was developed by the same division. They also have chargers and multiple product SKUs that use this battery pack.

I have a feeling that the “Newton” is likely to come in multiple colors such as white (chill), Black and Pink like the Play & Charge battery packs. There is a white Xbox on the market, and a Black one and a pink colored “Newton” controller would appeal to younger female gamers. That is a gaming market that Nintendo has with the Wii and DS and Microsoft would love to have play Xbox 360.

The Newton controller is going to have to small LED transmitters in a bar that you place next to your TV to triangulate the position of the remote by the LED sensor on the controller. The Big Button controllers that come with Sceen It! use an LED receiver that plugs into the USB ports. They also better get around to making a Xbox brand USB hub. Some of the original designs of the Xbox 360 had four USB ports in front and with all the Xbox accessories that use the USB ports would benefit from more available ports.

By making this controller Microsoft will be able to take away an exclusive feature that makes people want to buy a Nintendo Wii for around the cost of a standard wireless controller. If they bring an external Blu-Ray movie player they would take away one of the biggest reasons why current or potential Xbox owners would want to get a Playstation 3.

This controller would allow game developers to port Wii games to the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade platforms. I would love to see games like Zak and Wiki on Xbox 360. Heck I would pay real money for graphical adventure games on Xbox Live Arcade.

Microsoft wants to make the Xbox 360 appeal to Kids, girls, causal gamers and they want their current customer base to go out and buy yet another controller. If they bring out a controller like the Newton and lower the price of the Xbox 360 again it would be a tough blow to Nintendo. They want to beat Nintendo and Sony and they are willing to do anything to do that.

If we don’t see this “Newton” Xbox controller by the end of the year I’ll give my Wii to charity.


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2 Responses to Xbox 360 “Newton” Motion Sensing Controller Confirmed



Well, I don’t recall seeing this type of controller available for purchase for my XBOX 360 Pro (which I purchased last month at a Circuit City “Going Out Of Business” sale). Any updates on this? Did you have to give away your Wii system?



Still no word on the controller. I am not the author of this article, but I hope the writer kept their word :)

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