Microsoft’s Project Natal, a new peripheral that is being launched in 2010, has the potential of changing the way we think of gaming and more.Â Think of Nintendo’s Wii and how revolutionary the concept was of holding the controller in your hand, and the movement you performed with the controller registering as an actual movement in the game- no more button taps needed.Â Natal takes it two steps further– it removes the need of the controller AND it registers full body movement.Â They had a demo at E3 2009 in which a computer generated character was able to interact with the human person using the device.Â At one point during the demo, get this, the human person showed a real physical picture, and the character in the demo pulled the picture into the demo in real time and interacted with it.Â With Microsoft pushing this device as the peripheral that will extend the lifespan of their highly successful XBox 360 system, it is guaranteed we will be seeing more of this in the future.
While there has been speculation as to if the demo was staged or not, the bottom line is the door of opportunities Microsoft opened.Â Videogames as we know it, if this device is used right, will change forever.Â Imagine playing a game such as Halo or Call of Duty Modern Warfare and performing the actual movements that Master Chief or the characters in CoD do- no controller in hand?Â Or a fighting game like Street Figher or Soul Calibur?Â How about sports games such as baseball or boxing?Â But this device and its potential go far beyond videogames, which is really what makes it part of the ‘big picture.’Â Imagine going to a menu screen on your XBox 360 to view some of the video content you have– and never having to pick up a controller or remote.Â Instead just pointing and pressing at the air to signal where you want to go and what you want to see on the screen.Â Â Â Now take it further.Â One of the biggest pushes right now is 3D TV.Â So imagine the possibilities of having an interactive menu like the one I just mentioned, only this time it is in 3D- whether with glasses or other rendering technologies– ala Minority Report or Avatar.Â Remember how cool it was to see Tom Cruise move those pages around without ever touching them?Â Now take it one step further than that– because who said that sort of experience would only be limited to a videogame system- why not standard television? And that’s not all because along with its physical interaction abilities, it also has voice recognition. Â And with items such as widgets being integrated into a person’s television viewing experience now, and the usage of IPTV integration, it will only be a matter of time.
The Overall Meal
Very simple 2 part question– 1) Do you think Microsoft and other companies will truly support this for better or worse 2) Do you think it will catch on with the public outside of Xbox 360 diehard fans?
Let the debate begin (below)!!