Sony has promised a way that programmers can make use of its Move position tracking sensor. Is this the first challenge to the Kinect?
Not generally known for encouraging hackers to use its hardware, Sony has decided to play catch up with Kinect by releasing a program that provides access to the Move controller. It isn't exactly clear what the Move.Me application is going to do - it isn't described as an SDK and it most likely won't let you use the Move controller with anything other than a PS3.
Move.me is described as a server application that runs on the PS3 and tracks the Move controller sending the data via a LAN to a PC say. So it turns the PS3 into a position tracking sensor that can be accessed via the network. There is no mention of how the data is presented to the client or if Sony is going to provide any client software to let you connect to the server.
So is this an alternative to the Kinect body tracking and depth measuring sensor? The answer is a very definite no. Sony's Move device uses a "wand" to fix the position of the "player" within the video field viewed by the PS Eye camera. It has some additional features like an accelerometer to give it orientation and some buttons for feedback, but compared to free form 3D sensing it is much more limited.
The Kinect's full 3D image can be processed using AI and pattern recognition techniques to do more than its game playing role suggests.You could add software to recognise multiple objects in a scene and create 3D models of them.
Move on the other hand is a simple tracking system that locates the position of the wand. It can't for example work out what or who is holding the wand or gain information about other objects in view. It may be more limited but its simplicity and hence reliability might be an advantage in some situations. It is also an interesting approach to making the hardware available - perhaps one that could be extended to the Kinect in the form of a Kinect server.
So the bottom line is that that access to the Move sensor is a good thing but it isn't going to have the same revolutionary impact as the Kinect.