PlayStation Move Stress Tests, Using Lighting Changes And Human Distraction

The PlayStation Move can be flummoxed by bright sunlight. That's the one stress test Sony's new motion controller failed in a series of trials involving a range of lighting conditions and human distraction to which we subjected the Move.

Lighting Tests

The PlayStation Move wand used the PlayStation Eye camera to track it's movement in 3D space. The Eye and Move sync during a calibration test that involves the orb at the tip of the Move wand illuminating in a color that does not match anything else in the Eye's range of view. That technique allows the Eye to track the Move better than it can a human body, which is what older camera-based games tried to do. Those older games were often bedeviled by anything other than ideal lighting. To ensure Move is an improvement, we needed to try different lighting conditions.

Starting on Sunday, I tested the PlayStation Move under four lighting conditions: standard daytime sun, bright sunlight, nighttime lamp illumination and room darkness.

Sunday afternoon (normal light)...

Sunday afternoon (bright sunshine)...

Monday night (lamp illumination)...

Monday night (no illumination)...

The PlayStation Move managed to calibrate on the first attempt in three of the above four trials. Draw the blinds to prevent bright sunlight from hitting your TV and it seems that you'll be ok.

Human Distraction

The PlayStation Move sends positional data based on both the camera's reading of that Move's illuminated sphere and the motion sensors within the wand. If someone blocks the camera, the data involving the sphere will be cut off. Some games use this as a feature — Start The Party, for example, has you hide your Move "flashlight" behind your back from time to time — so Sony is clearly unafraid to have the Move and the Eye momentarily be eclipsed by a person's body.

During several sessions of Ubisoft's Racquet Sports, I found that the Wii Sports tennis-like game would regularly warn me and my friend that we had swung our Move wands out of the Eye's view. (The game would not pause when this happened, showing that the motion data collected within the Move was sufficient for the virtual tennis swings). As with well-designed Wii MotionPlus games, this momentary accidental off-screen pointing didn't cause a problem. As soon as we moved the Move wans back onto the screen, the Eye caught them again. No hiccup.

But, Crecente, reasoned, sometimes the distractions you have while playing a game aren't as predictable or manageable as a momentary off-screen flick. Sometimes someone tries to mess with you. He encouraged his son Tristan to do that. Here's their test:

Not Tested Yet

Neither Crecente nor I have tossed our Move wands into our TVs to see if they smash screens as well as a Wii Remote, nor have we stress-tested the Move wrist strap, which looks like an early Wii one. We have noted that the Move sphere is a rubber ball, so if the Move hits a TV sphere-first, there may not be a lot of damage. But the body of the Move is hard plastic and can probably crack something.

We've also not yet tested battery life, though we both believe we are getting at least as much charge as a Wii Remote does. The Move and its Navigation controller recharge via the same mini-USB-to-USB wire as a traditional DualShock 3 PlayStation 3 controller. It does not use AA batteries, as the Wii Remote and Xbox 360 controllers do.

So far, the Move seems durable and reliable, most tests passed, bright light notwithstanding.