“Project Natal” is the Xbox 360’s Motion Control

By  |  Monday, June 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

nadalcamKudo Tsunoda took a shot at the Wii when introducing Microsoft’s answer to motion control today.

“This isn’t a game where you end up on the sofa just kind of using some preset waggle commands,” the project’s creative director said, talking about a physically intense tech demo.

Indeed, the so-called “Project Natal” was impressive, at least from where I was sitting at Microsoft’s E3 press event. As rumored, the technology is a 3D motion-sensing camera that needs no other peripherals to operate.

Video demonstrations included a young man performing karate kicks against an on-screen opponent, his image duplicated onscreen with dead-on accuracy. In the next clip, a girl held her hands like a steering wheel and drove a race car. When she hit a pit stop, one of her family members ran up to the screen and made the motions of replacing a tire.


We also saw a couple of live demonstrations. In a full-bodied take on Breakout, a girl used her arms, legs and head to hit balls down a 3D corridor. Another demonstrator pretended to throw paint buckets at a screen and created live splatter art.

Finally, Fable 2 creator Peter Molyneux introduced “Milo,” a child that, in a video, interacted with a real woman. In the most impressive moment, she drew a picture, held it in front of the screen, and Milo took a virtual copy, recognizing the color and shape of the drawing. Milo will apparently be demonstrated to VIPs during E3.

Microsoft steered clear from any sort of release window for Project Natal. Everything shown was in prototype, and the initial video shown is “product vision” rather than real implementation. The closest we heard to a timetable is that development kits are going out now.

In my E3 wish list, I said I’d rather see  Microsoft wait until the next console cycle to bust out motion control, but a comment by Don Mattrick, the Xbox division’s senior vice president, suggests that this technology will simply extend the life of the Xbox 360. It seems Microsoft is in no rush to move on to something else.

“We can leap into a new era of interactive entertainment without having to launch a new console,” he said.

You can see the concept video on YouTube.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. M Sandford Says:

    Microsoft could have added some sort of virtual reality display goggles to tie into this system. It would have been easy for them to do. Wonder why they didn’t do it? Hard to believe they didn’t think of it.

  2. xboxringofdeathfix Says:

    M sandford we also must think that microsoft company also are being run by humans too and human also made mistakes too.

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