Remember Microsoft Kinect? The former Xbox accessory is now a plaything for developers and enterprise customers. But for a while, Microsoft was all in on controller-less motion controls, and at CES 2023, it seems like Lenovo is trying its hand at something similar for the metaverse.
Lenovo’s Project Chronos doesn’t have a final name or set of features, but what we do know is it’s a set-top box “host computing station” that offers motion controls for virtual avatars without needing to use physical controls or clunky mo-cap suits. A possible solution for Vtubers streaming today, and maybe the main way any person attends a virtual fitness class or social gathering in the future.
Project Chronos looks a bit like a compact projector, and is designed to be placed under a TV or computer monitor or mounted on a wall, connected over DisplayPort or HDMI, and used to capture movement for use in a virtual world. Lenovo says the system relies on an RGB depth camera to track your motions and match them to a character or avatar of your creation. The company didn’t share specifics on how detailed this tracking is but did say that Project Chronos should be able to reproduce facial expressions and mouth movements easily, something that’s most easily accessed in consumer devices like the Quest Pro or the HTC Vive Facial Tracker.
While Lenovo’s framing is very “creator” focused right now, the possibilities are naturally a lot bigger. As an example, a fitness coach could exercise alongside their client “showing them proper form and movement techniques,” Lenovo suggests.
Today’s announcement is really just a tease of a bigger coming out party for whatever the final version of Project Chronos is. Lenovo is working with developers and content partners to come up with experiences for the device. A slightly more natural way to interact virtually might just be around the corner.
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