This week at the E3 game show we saw the introduction of some amazing technology that will change the way we look at gaming, but more, that will change the way we look at interacting with computers. The project with codename Natal adds a device to XBox that contains a microphone and 2 camera’s (1 normal recognizing body and movements and 1 infrared detecting distance an direction) and the software to recognize human gestures, faces, sound and voice.
The video shows the first game experiences and applications (because the possibilities go far beyond gaming) are truly unbelievable. The XBox controller is gone and all functions are replaced by the gesture recognition added through the device. Now before you think this is one smart “demo” and faked for the show (and yes I’m guilty, I’ve been doing that myself to avoid Murphy) this is not. 2 of the journalist that where able to test the experience say “it works just like advertised in the demo” (in French): http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/natal/video/x9hpj5_gameblog-tv-project-natal-lci-ingra_videogames.
Another nice example of a game that makes full use of the Natal options is the Milo and Kate demo from the Lionhead studios. In the second video (start at 1 minute), you’ll see what you can do if you start adding “artificial intelligence” to the experience by recognizing emotions and interpreting tone of voice. Again simply amazing and shows how ground breaking this can be for non-game applications too. You can imagine how your next ATM app could use this, or simply any other automated environment that could use a human touch.