At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, AKA E3 2009, Microsoft introduced Project Natal, a new interface for the XBox 360 console that eliminates the need for a physical controller. Instead, players game via an accessory capable of  voice & image recognition and full-body 3D motion tracking (microphone + video camera + infrared camera + nifty software). 

Way to one-up the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft…conceptually, anyway. We will have to see about the implementation. How awesome would it be if Project Natal was backwards compatible?

Product concept video:

We were shown an example of the raw output of the system, which melds the two sources and then breaks them down into a wireframe of objects, a heatmap (for depth), and a point-map (which is akin to one of those hand imprint needle toys). The software merges all of this together to create a picture of movement in the room, allowing for some pretty crazy detail of what is going on…The accuracy is far better than you would imagine it could be; it’s very impressive stuff. [via Engadget]

Back at IDC 2009, I heard that Microsoft acquired a company manufacturing 3D range-sensing cameras. So the rumors were true–it was for the XBox. Human face/body tracking is wicked cool, because of its precision & accuracy. 

I grew up in a family where video games were outlawed in favor of actual physical activity. Then Nintendo came along and changed everything. And now we own a Wii.

I wonder if gesture-based control systems will ever replace traditional controllers?