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Project Natal Pits Microsoft Head To Head Against Nintendo

Microsoft announced that it has been developing a new technology that will enable users to play video games using their natural body movements, rather than any sort of handheld controllers.

At the E3 expo in Los Angeles, the software giant unveiled a new Xbox360 peripheral, codenamed “Natal”, which integrates cameras as well as face and voice recognition technologies to sense users and their actions.

The project incorporates a high-end camera, which is unlike previous console cameras can read the full body motion, and its improved face recognition feature will enable users to log into their Xbox LIVE profile, simply by standing in front of the telly screen.

Renowned film director Steven Speilberg, who attended the launch, backed this innovative project by saying, “The gamer in me went out of my mind when I got to be interactive with this. There is technology now that recognises not just your thumb, it recognises your entire person. The technology knows who you are”.

Natal enables users play car racing games by just moving their hands as if they are controlling the car's steering wheel; furthermore, in-game characters in soccer, boxing, skateboards, and other games titles simply mimic the body gestures of real-world gamers.

In addition to this, Xbox 360 consoles integrated with Natal will be able to take voice commands for various actions, including connecting online for video chat or playing movies.

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Our Comments

Natal could well be one of the most exciting projects ever presented by Microsoft. Using face recognition and biometrics, the technology recognises more than just the gamer's tapping on the game pad but takes gaming interaction to another level altogether. It expands on what Nintendo has done before with the Nintendo Wii console and other interfaces like the Sony's Eye Toy Play with Camera.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.