Can the Playstation Eye already do what Xbox Kinect does?

Has Microsoft simply re-invented the wheel? That’s what I find myself asking the more I read about Kinect, the company’s motion-sensing Xbox 360 add-on due out this fall.

For those of you familiar with Sony’s PS2, you might recall that the original EyeToy was released back in 2004. Not that the EyeToy was very sophisticated back then, but it was the first major console device to have in-game motion-sensing capability.

Can the Playstation Eye already do what Xbox Kinect does?

The EyeToy eventually led to the development of the Sony Playstation Eye for the PS3, a much more advanced camera that also included audio recognition.

After watching a marketing video for the PS3 game Kung-Fu LIVE, posted by Kotaku, I searched out the technical specifications for both the Eye and the Kinect so that I could compare them head-to-head. Here’s what I found:

Can the Playstation Eye already do what Xbox Kinect does?

Both the Kinect and the Eye will support speech recognition, video chat, full body mapping capabilities and multiplayer modes (although it has now been revealed that the Kinect will not support more than 2 active players, a realization that is in conflict with what early marketing videos had shown).

Now, keep in mind that these are the specs that were leaked for the Kinect before Microsoft admitted that they would be downgrading the Kinect hardware in order to cut production costs. That change means that the Kinect camera will not be capable of the 32-bit color-depth setting.

There is also the little detail that the Eye only retails for $30, while the Kinect is going to debut at $149 this November.

So then, all things considered, is there really anything the Kinect can do that the Sony Eye cannot?

The answer is, sadly, nothing that I could find.

That’s not to say that the Kinect will be a bad device. I don’t plan to judge it until I see one in action. However, the Kinect is simply not the revolutionary device that Microsoft tried to make it out to be at this year’s E3. That said, if the quality is good enough, it will still make a pretty cool addition to my Xbox 360.

Update: We asked Microsoft representatives for the official Kinect specifications and for a comment on this story. Here is their response:

“We aren’t releasing final product technical specs for Kinect until closer to launch. Since we don’t comment on rumors or speculation, we have no official response to your opinion piece.”