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PC World

Get in the (video) game with GameCam

October 6, 1999
Web posted at: 4:34 p.m. EDT (2034 GMT)

by Cameron Crouch logitech

(IDG) -- Shipments of PC cameras are burgeoning even as bandwidth remains a challenge. But that's not slowing Reality Fusion, a video interaction technology developer, which has paired with PC video camera maker Logitech to produce Reality Fusion GameCam.

A PC camera marketed for its game features, the $129 GameCam bundle comes with a six-game software suite and the Logitech QuickCam PC video camera to record players' movements. It is scheduled to be in retail outlets in late October.

And there is a ready audience. International Data Corporation projects PC camera shipments will surge from 606,000 in 1997 to 9.2 million in 2002 as bandwidth grows and more PCs enter homes and businesses.

GameCam projects your image into an environment so you can interact with digital objects, says Chad Kinzelberg, president and CEO of Reality Fusion.
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You're in the game

The GameCam suite includes interactive and multi-player sports games as well as music and photo amusements.

In the two basketball games, players can compete one-on-one in a stadium environment, or two to four players can take turns shooting until one spells "horse." Other sports games include Karate and Vball (beach volleyball against an animated opponent).

In JumpIN Jive, players' movements create kaleidoscope light shows to music; and in Be There, you pose for pictures in exotic locations.

Setting up the games is fairly simple. You stand in front of the camera and toggle the game and player selections with quick motions of your arm that trigger the screen's controls.

Once the game begins, your image is projected into the scene of the game and you and your opponent play using virtual balls and the real movements of your body.

"As you play, the camera adjusts your image to go closer to the ball," says Kinzelberg. For added immersion, "the compositing feature lets you see only your image [not the background in which you're actually standing] within the setting."

Image -- or imagine -- opponents

You can play Basketball, Horse, and Karate against a friend. Vball lets you record your friend's moves so you can compete even when you're alone. The Karate game lets you choose an animated political figure as your opponent.

The GameCam camera connects to your computer by Universal Serial Bus. Many PC cameras still connect via parallel ports, but USB is a rising trend, according to IDC.

GameCam also takes advantage of typical digital camera functions. Its Snapshot option takes pictures of you as you play. Then you can save the images in GameCam's digital photo album.

"You can do regular PC Camera things with the camera but we're focusing on the games," says Reality Fusion's Kinzelberg.

Though its games may be less flashy than many of the Internet games and consoles on the market, GameCam provides real physical activity -- a plus for inactive game addicts or busy executives needing stress relief.

Reality Fusion also bundles its games with PC cameras from Intel and other vendors. However, those versions lack the two-player option, quite possibly the most appealing feature of GameCam interactive games.

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