The gaming industry has evolved into a behemoth, surpassing even the movie and filmmaking sector in terms of revenue and impact. As this evolution continues, gaming companies are embracing cutting-edge technologies to create immersive experiences that captivate players like never before. One standout player in this landscape is Nex Team Inc., a San Francisco-based gaming platform that has forged a groundbreaking partnership with Sky Live, pushing the boundaries of immersive gaming.
A Journey into Immersive Motion-Capturing Technologies
In 2017, Nex embarked on a journey to pioneer motion capture using smartphone cameras. This coincided with the release of Apple’s A12 Bionic chip, which ushered in a new era of processing power. CoreML, Apple’s machine learning framework, streamlined the execution of machine learning models on mobile devices. Nex harnessed this processing power to create a sophisticated setup involving motion capture, machine learning analysis, and user motion interpretation.
Nex’s technology relies on flagship system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors, which facilitate basic motion capture and motion tracking. The process begins with capturing the camera frame on the device, which is then sent to the neural processing unit (NPU). Here, machine learning analysis extracts body pose, enabling the capture of user motion. This data is subsequently integrated into the game engine, translating user movements into interactive content.
The culmination of Nex’s efforts is their motion development kit (MDK), developed on the Unity gaming engine. This kit facilitates motion tracking via a single RGB camera, making motion capture accessible across various operating systems, including Android. Leveraging hardware acceleration within SoCs further enhances the kit’s capabilities, streamlining pose model inference through machine learning. Nex not only uses MDK for their games but also shares it with external studios, fostering a collaborative approach to immersive gaming development.
Sky Live: Elevating the Immersive Experience
A significant milestone in Nex’s journey is their partnership with Sky Live, a venture that aims to redefine motion capture entertainment. Sky Live’s interactive TV cameras, powered by advanced SoC chips, extract motion at a rapid 30 frames per second. This breakthrough technology forms the foundation for building motion-based experiences that blur the lines between reality and gaming.
Sky Live’s capabilities extend beyond conventional entertainment. The interactive cameras find utility in video conferencing, recorded call watching, connected show viewing, and even fitness tracking for workout feedback. Nex plays a pivotal role in this partnership, contributing 17 out of 27 experiences that ship with Sky Live. By bringing interactive experiences to living rooms, Nex and Sky Live are changing the landscape of entertainment distribution and consumption.
Shaping the Future of Motion Gaming
Nex’s approach to motion gaming sets it apart from competitors. While predecessors like the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect, and Nintendo Switch have explored motion-based gameplay, Nex eliminates the need for complex accessories like headsets or body sensors. Instead, Nex envisions a future where motion games seamlessly integrate with everyday hardware like TVs and setup boxes. This democratization of motion gaming has the potential to trigger a revolutionary shift in how we interact with entertainment.
The concept of the “iPhone moment” serves as a guiding principle for Nex’s vision. Just as the iPhone transformed the smartphone landscape, Nex aspires to do the same for TV setup boxes. The camera’s interactive capabilities offer a myriad of use cases beyond mere content streaming. The growing interest in Nex’s approach highlights the appetite for interactive experiences that bridge the gap between digital and physical realms.
Empowering Game Developers with Unity
Nex’s collaboration with game developers is a cornerstone of their success. The motion development kit, built on Unity, provides a user-friendly platform for developers to create motion-based games. By offering the Unity plugin and MDK tools, Nex facilitates an environment conducive to innovation.
Game developers interested in Nex Playground can directly engage with Nex, signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to access MDK. This collaborative approach has yielded impressive results, with some developers crafting their debut games within months. The accessibility of MDK, combined with Unity’s familiarity, has lowered barriers to entry, fostering creativity and diversity in motion game development.
Scaling Towards a Vibrant Future
Nex’s ambitions extend beyond the present. The motion development kit’s versatility spans across various devices, from phones and tablets to Macs and PCs. Recognizing the superiority of TV-based experiences, Nex continuously expands its support for such platforms, including Sky Live and Apple tvOS 17. As camera-enabled platforms become central to the future of motion gaming, Nex is poised to spearhead an ecosystem of immersive games.
By bolstering their kit’s capabilities and nurturing partnerships, Nex aims to amplify its impact. This strategy involves incorporating intellectual property (IP), attracting more developers, and diversifying their offerings. The convergence of distribution, development, and innovative partnerships positions Nex at the forefront of driving compelling, immersive experiences for consumers.
In conclusion, Nex Team Inc. is revolutionizing the gaming landscape through its forward-thinking approach to motion-capturing technology. The partnership with Sky Live and the development of the motion development kit showcase Nex’s commitment to delivering immersive experiences that bridge the gap between imagination and reality. As Nex continues to push boundaries and empower developers, the future of motion gaming holds endless possibilities for innovation and engagement.