How the PlayStation Camera Works

Critical Response to the Device

Although there are very few games that can utilize the features of the PlayStation Camera as of January 2014, people seem to be impressed by the functionality demonstrated by the apps in "The Playroom." The AR interactivity both with the controller and with user gestures gets praise. Who wouldn't like to bat around cute little virtual robots in their own living room?

There is, however, a worry that because the PlayStation Camera does not come standard with the PlayStation 4, there is little incentive for game companies to spend time integrating special features for the accessory; there's no telling if people who would buy their games have the device. The general consensus seems to be that the Camera is fun and responsive, but that it isn't absolutely necessary.

There are a few potential problems, as well. By some accounts, low light situations decrease the ability of the device to recognize faces. Also, the facial recognition will sometimes log someone in who isn't the actual user, perhaps due to similar features. Facial recognition is not considered a security feature on the device at this point, so to truly secure your account, you need to set a passcode. Facial recognition can also apparently be thrown off if the user does something like put on a hat. But it does seem to work under other wardrobe change conditions, even removal of facial hair.

Although voice recognition reportedly works most of the time, commands sometimes have to be repeated, and ambient noise can cause interference. Still, some reports say that PlayStation Camera's voice control, with its simpler set of commands, works a little more consistently than Xbox One Kinect's.

So far, not many games utilize the Camera's capabilities, and its motion and voice sensing features aren't as integrated into PS4 as Kinect's are into Xbox One. But it does have some nice capabilities that might make it worthwhile, especially if you are into live streaming of games and would prefer not to use a headphone for voice.

And although initially the PS4 was not backward compatible with any games for previous PlayStation consoles, Sony has announced that it will be unveiling a service around summer 2014 that lets PS4 users stream older PlayStation games. Perhaps some of the EyeToy and Eye games will be updated to be Camera compatible.

In any case, as the PlayStation 4 is on the market longer, more games are bound to be released that utilize the cool features of the new PlayStation Camera. Until then, you can always have fun with live-streaming and robot swatting.

Author's Note: How the PlayStation Camera Works

All the cool new gaming features and accessories coming out lately make me think, "Welcome to the world of tomorrow!" With the PlayStation Camera and the rival Xbox One Kinect, our gaming systems can recognize our faces and our voices and respond accordingly. The latter can apparently even read your pulse. We only need program it to say, "Hello, Dave," when we walk into the room to increase the creep factor.

But I prefer to think about the more "Star Trek" like implications. Aside from the fact that I'd love to ditch the DDR dance pad and play a realistic martial arts game that actually taught me proper moves, maybe one day we'll be able to walk in and start asking our game consoles questions. "PlayStation, how many ounces are in a quart," or, "Xbox, find a recipe that uses endive and anchovies. I have extra." We're not quite there yet, but maybe one day. Until then, I'll just save up for a new system and ponder whether AR robots dream.

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