Lenovo-backed video game system unveiled in China

China has barred foreign gaming consoles from being sold in the country

A video game system backed by Lenovo is scheduled to be launched in China in the second half of this year.

It will target the local game console market that is barred to the popular devices that foreign companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft sell worldwide. Nintendo is allowed to sell a device designed specifically for China, but its more popular Wii system is not sold in the country.

Beijing eedoo Technology, which is funded by Lenovo, China's largest PC maker, unveiled the new gaming system on Friday. Earlier known as the eBox, the console has been renamed the iSec, which stands for "Sports Entertainment Center."

The iSec functions like Microsoft's Kinect device and uses motion-sensing technology. Players' movements are read by a camera, allowing games to be played with hand gestures and body motions.

Some of the games shown during Friday's announcement focus on exercise, including ones that require users to perform workout movements, or even Chinese martial art actions, to play the game. Others were sports and adventure games involving skateboarding or fighting monsters. The device also acts as a home entertainment system to watch movies and surf the Web, and also allows users to sing karaoke songs.

The iSec is meant for families, and is focused on their health and entertainment needs. Its target demographic is the 200 million households in China. Games for the console are being developed by partners in China and in other regions like North America and Europe.

Eedoo CEO Jack Luo said after the announcement that the company is first focusing on the China market. "Only after we sell 1 million units of the iSec, will we start to think about selling the device overseas," he said. He did not disclose the price for the device.

China has a robust computer gaming market because of the proliferation of the Internet. But console games have yet to take off, as they have faced legal obstacles. Popular overseas gaming companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have had their best-selling consoles banned by the Chinese government because of concerns that the devices will harm the country's youth.

Microsoft continues to work with the Chinese government, hoping to sell at some point the Xbox 360 in China. Sony is also exploring selling its PlayStation 3 in the country.

For now, Chinese consumers must buy the gaming systems in the unorganized market, where tech products are purchased overseas and then brought into to the country.

Lenovo chairman Liu Chuanzhi said during Friday's announcement that he enthusiastically supported the funding of the iSec project. But referring to the challenge of making a motion-detection game run well, he sounded a note of caution: "Everyone can see that there will be some technological obstacles, and that the market is not totally mature. As a result, this project will face challenges."

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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