The New Scientist had a short story on it at the end of August. Here´s what they wrote:
PlayStation gamers are always looking for exciting new ways to control the onscreen action, but using a camera to track a player’s body movement has not worked reliably, admits Sony. The camera gets confused by other things in the room.
Sony’s new idea is to plug a webcam into the console, and give the gamer a handheld wand similar to a pocket flashlight. The wand has a battery, a few mouse-like buttons and several different coloured LEDs that can be switched on and off in various combinations.
By pressing the buttons and waving the wand towards the webcam, the gamer can click to shoot aliens, drag-and-drop images on screen and navigate menus.
The webcam is tuned to see only pure bright colours and map their motion in space, so it can ignore ordinary room lights. And if two people have wands with different coloured LEDs, they can play against each other.
The main difference to the Rev controller may be that Sony seems to be content with two dimensions. Their controller patent seems to be nothing more than the good old light pen we have known for twenty years. Of course, the camera is able to decipher the two-dimensional input into a makeshift 3D image. At the London games expo 2001, SCE already demonstrated a similar technology. I was using a sword that was brightly coloured so the camera could pick up on it. Knowing the dimensions of the sword, the PlayStation could deduce the position of the object simply by analysing the dimension´s distortion, i.e. by perspective. However, Sony has never released anything of the sort. So I guess this is a far cry from a proper 3D technology, which Nintendo has opted for. Here´s a quote from the patent:
It is not necessary that image capture device 104 has depth capability, as the corresponding scales from images captured at image plane 117a and image plane 117b may be used to provide a relative degree of distance corresponding to respective image areas occupied by user 102a and user 102b. According to this relative degree of distance, the amount of movement for input device 100 to cause a corresponding movement of a cursor on display screen 108 may be adjusted. For example, if the user is closer to image capture device 104, then larger movements may be used to correspond to a movement of a cursor as compared to smaller movements when the user is at a farther distance.
So Sony´s magic wand seems to be more of a copy of Microsoft´s magic wand, seen here.
This story already caused some Nintendo fans to scream ´copycat´. But the Microsoft tool also appears to work in two dimensions only and it is not intended for gaming.