Microsoft's new motion controller is a camera, that uses object, movement, and voice recognition to deliver a new kind of immersive gaming experience.
It may look a bit like a Wii sensor bar, but it's something altogether different. Project Natal, as Microsoft is calling it at their 2009 E3 press conference, is a camera and sensor assembly that recognizes faces, body movements, objects, and even voices in order to integrate the player into the gaming environment. Examples shown at the conference include a boy holding up a skateboard, which then appeared on the screen, with the boy then riding said board by just swaying back and forth on his own two feet; two women trying on virtual clothes using a camera image of themselves; facial recognition; voice control; buzzing in to 1 VS 100 by raising a hand;and even browsing the NXE using hand controls as in the movie Minority Report.
Project Natal creative director Kudo Tsunoda took the stage, showing his Xbox Live avatar moving with his movements and playing various tech demos, including a handball game and one that allowed you to paint with stencils.
Development kits are arriving at Microsoft partners today, so while there's no word on when this amazing technology will actually make it into player's hands, with developers like Fable's Peter Molyneux behind it, we can expect great things. Things like this:
Molyneux came on stage to present a demonstration of Milo, in which a real woman and a small boy on the screen interact. The boy recognizes her emotions, throwing her a pair of goggles, which she reaches out and grabs.
Everyone at the press conference was floored. This could very well be the sort of show-stopper that Microsoft needs to take home the fictional press conference of the show award.