Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Broadcom offers cheap motion-based gaming for set-top boxes

Broadcom has teamed up with Chinese firm 3DiJoy to support its system for motion-sensing gaming on set-top boxes, enabling users to play games in their living room with little extra hardware costs.

The companies are billing the system as an inexpensive way to add gaming to an existing set-top box. Broadcom’s set-top box chips will integrate Bluetooth wireless network technology that can connect to a gesture-based remote control with Shanghai-based 3DiJoy’s motion-sensing technology.

The technology paves the way for motion-sensing game systems to spread far beyond the game console to ordinary set-top boxes that handle functions such as digital video recording or cable TV access. That in turn could lead to a much larger market for video games in places where people can’t afford or aren’t allowed to buy game machines. In China, for instance, game consoles are still banned.

Broadcom is the leader in chips for set-top boxes. The company makes a BCM7231 IP STB system-on-a-chip device that can power a set-top. That chip will integrate a Bluetooth wireless gaming solution that can connect with a motion-sensing remote (pictured) that uses 3DiJoy’s technology. That system could work with games downloaded into a set-top via the internet.

The Broadcom chip can run 3D graphics-based games that use the OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics standard. The system is being targeted at users in the U.S., Latin America, Central America, and China, said Li Hsu, chief executive of 3DiJoy. Dan Marotta, executive vice president of Broadcom’s communications group, said that service providers can now add new revenue-generating entertainment services to their existing set-top box services.

The companies are showing the solution this week at a couple of trade shows: the China Content Broadcasting Network Exhibition in Beijing and the IP&TV World Forum in London. The system can be used for both video games and educational apps. Other apps such as search and audio streaming can also be added easily to a system using the Broadcom and 3DiJoy solutions.

China’s internet protocol TV (video delivered via web) market has more than 8 million subscribers and could grow to more than 12 million in 2011, according to market researcher Streaming Media Network.The 3DiJoy system competes directly with the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360, and the Sony PlayStation Move. Kinect-like technology will also be available soon on PCs.