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Microsoft intros full-body motion controller

updated 03:30 pm EDT, Mon June 1, 2009

Microsoft Project Natal

Microsoft this afternoon unveiled a technology meant for the Xbox 360 but which is also a technology first. Nicknamed Project Natal, the system uses a camera to detect a player's entire body movement. It can not only recognize limbs and posture but is intelligent enough to distinguish between active players and those in the background. It also has a microphone and recognizes voice commands, effectively creating a true hands-free game console.

The control allows obvious visual parallels in games, such as grabbing a steering wheel to drive, fighting with punches or painting with hand gestures. However, it can equally be used for the main Xbox interface by swiping through menus with hands. Face detection lets players auto sign-in just by standing in front of the camera.

Microsoft has provided few more concrete details of software, prices or other features. It says only that Project Natal developer kits are being made available today and that both current as well as future Xbox 360s will work with the peripheral.

The add-on is a conscious attempt to compete with the popularity of the Nintendo Wii but also represents a significant jump in natural control for computer interfaces. At the company's E3 press conference, game developer Peter Molyneux and others explained that Natal removes the learning curve for using a device as owners don't have to memorize the buttons for physical peripherals.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Is this not innovation? Or you guys going to argue they are just copying the wii, even though its a completely different technology...

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In other news...

    Users expecting to have real life experiences, with real people, doing real things, are still disappointed by this new technology.
    When asked about view of the product, Joe Schmo said "I ordered a cup of coffee from the thing, and I never got it. When I went to sit down at the virtual cafe table, I fell on my but. I'm disappointed so far." ;)

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Very interesting

    It seems like you would need a tremendous amount of processing power to implement this idea well. I'd be very impressed if this system had the hardware to back up the claims.

  1. jrafalak

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "a technology first"?

    How is this different from the technology in "Toysight Gold" at (which has been out for the last 5 years) or even some of the old Amiga software (12 years ago) that used cameras (and/or microphones) to interact with games, music and other applications?

  1. Geobunny

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nope, not new

    Not new, not innovative either, and certainly NOT a "technology first".

    How do MS get away with such blatant BS?

    I was at the Epcot Centre in Florida over the new year period and in the queue for one of the "rides", they had 3 giant screens with a game projected onto them, each game was controlled by the movement of players' bodies in front of the screen. Limbs could interact with individual objects and the software was also able to distinguish between who was playing and who was simply watching.

  1. chas_m



    EPCOT: Innovator!

    Whoever set up those games at EPCOT is the real innovator, but perhaps Microsoft can do with this "borrowed" technology the only thing they do well: bring it to the unwashed (and I mean that literally) masses.

    I love that they keep trying ...

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    p*** industry

    The adult industry is probably already thinking of the possibilities of this feature. Imagine humping Jenna J. in the comfort of your living room!

  1. peter02l

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Innovation my foot!

    Look at the video. It's the video game that is controlling the player not the other way around. They basically made a movie. There is no demonstration going on.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    oh luck

    what have i told you about doing your homework? a few minutes on google and you wouldn't look nearly as... well, no real need to go there.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Um, there's a huge difference in a demonstration system set up at an amusement park and one that hooks up to a gaming console.

    Or does making things smaller and for the consumer only count as innovation when Apple does it?

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