Friday, November 12, 2010

The Sega DreamEye

As any Sega fanboy will tell you, Sega has usually been ahead of the pack when it comes to technological advances. The Sega Saturn was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in terms of hardware, and the Sega Dreamcast was on the cutting edge of technology when it first came out.

The Dreamcast, in addition to playing host to catalogue of numerous kick ass titles, was also a platform for strange and exciting peripherals. Most will recognize the Visual Memory Unit (VMU), the motion sensitive Fishing Rod, and the Dreamcast Gun. (Though the Sega brand version of the latter was only released in Japan and US gamers had to make do with 3rd party light guns.) These types of peripherals are commonplace now, with at least half a dozen variations on fishing rods for the Nintendo Wii, and many more to come for Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation Move.

But the peripheral I'd like to talk about today was called the Sega DreamEye, pictured below.

Only released in Japan, Sega began developing the DreamEye in 1998, and if you take a look at the PlayStation Eye, you can tell that Sega was thinking in the future. Designed for video chat over the Dreamcast's Internet hookup and still pictures, the DreamEye was the first real console-based camera, with resolutions up to 640x480, JPEG compression, and Flash Ram storage.

Like so many other aspects of the Dreamcast, it was ahead of its time.