Last year I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but unfortunately I do need to miss one of the best technology shows on the planet this year. Since I’m passionate about Windows Phones and other Microsoft products I didn’t want to miss the Microsoft CES 2010 keynote with Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach.
While Steve Ballmer announced to the public that the HTC HD2 will become available in the US via T-Mobile in upcoming spring, I was far more excited by an announcement made by Robbie Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices Division @ Microsoft: “Project Natal for Xbox 360“.
What is Project Natal for Xbox 360 ?
While the video above of the announcement describes Project Natal for Xbox 360 pretty well, but you might want to look at a Project Natal definition from the Wikipedia page:
“Project Natal is the code name for a “controller-free gaming- and entertainment experience” by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Based on an add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, Project Natal enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller through a natural user interface using gestures, spoken commands,or presented objects and images. The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360’s audience beyond its typically hardcore base.”
Both the video and the definition shown that Project Natal for Xbox 360 is a complex but very challenging innovation from a technical- and scientific perspective. In the Project Natal video above you can see some behind the scenes with the some Project Natal team members, each having a different professional- and educational background !! I think this story tells it all …
Some concluding thoughts about Project Natal
I used to play with the Atari 2600 “gaming console” as a child, but I have never really played a lot on gaming consoles. However yesterday the little child in me woke up yesterday after I saw the announcement and demo of this technical masterpiece.
Some critics might say that the first steps into a different way of interacting with the gaming console were set by the Nintendo Wii Console. This might be true, but the types of games and “game-richness” on a Nintendo Wii Console totally differ from the types of games on the Xbox 360 or the Sony PlayStation 3. Furthermore the Nintendo Wii Console still requires a kind of controller, despite the form may differ from the traditional controllers.
The Project Natal video above provides some realistic scenario’s which outline the new way of interaction between man and machine. I really like the part where the skateboard is scanned and loaded into the game so the boy can ride his own skateboard in the game, or the steering, clutching and tire changing in the racing game.
I think it is fair to say that Microsoft has developed a great new technology for the Microsoft Xbox 360 with Project Natal. In order to further boost the return on investment (ROI) on this excellent outcome of Microsoft Research, I started to think if there are different applications in other markets within the Microsoft Ecosystem.
I can think of future scenarios where you can control the machines in your kitchen, or interacting with your home electronics or I can even think of scenarios in the car industry. This might sound like future mapping, but I honestly do believe that Microsoft has a powerful technology in their hands with great potential. I hope we can see some results in the future.
“Microsoft tonight announced it would start shipping its Natal gesture and voice controller for the Xbox 360 game console in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season.”
Like you can read in the LA Times article above, Robbie Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices Division @ Microsoft tonight announced that Project Natal is available for consumers early 2010. In other words this is soon, and I’m definitely gonna see if I can replace the good old Atari 2600 memories with a brand new Microsoft Xbox 360 (Elite) gaming console, of course combined with the Project Natal add-on !!