The low-down on Project Natal

Project Natal, Microsoft’s hands-free motion control answer to the Nintendo Wii; watch the footage and read all the details right here at Gamezine.

Microsoft starts their Project Natal press release with the statement, “The future of home entertainment has a new name: Xbox 360.” A statement they hope to fulfil with their controller-free gaming promise presented at the company’s E3 conference.

“Today with cultural visionaries at our side and controller-free gaming on our horizon, Xbox 360 authored a new page in home entertainment history,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.

“For us, this E3 is about breaking down barriers — between generations, between games and entertainment, and most important, between video game players and everyone else — in a way that only Xbox 360 can.”

We’ve seen Lionhead’s Milo tech demo at work, with a young boy interacting with players both through seeing the player, but also through voice detection.

The new camera will allow you to interact with games without any need for a controller. See a ball? Kick it. Project Natal will be compatible with all Xbox 360’s due to a custom processor running within the device itself, which incorporates an RGB camera, a depth sensor and a multi-array microphone.

Unlike 2D cameras before it (such as the Eye-Toy) which need to interpret 3D space from 2D images, Project Natal tracks your full body in 3D, noticing directions, depth and even a shift of emotion in your face or voice. Moreover, the camera is not light-dependent due to an infra-red depth sensor.

Even Steven Spielberg had something to say about the technology: “The next step in interactive entertainment is to make the controller disappear. With Project Natal, we’ll see games that bring everyone together through technology that actually recognizes us.”

So how will Project Natal change the way you play? Read the following run-down to learn all the details about Microsoft’s controller-free gaming project:

  • Controller-free gaming and entertainment – Project Natal uses a sensor to track your body movement and recognise your face, even listen to your voice. If you know how to move your hands, shake your hips, or speak, you and your friends will be able to jump instantly into any Project Natal experience.


  • Full-body play – Full-body tracking allows the Project Natal sensor to capture every move, from head to toe, to give players a full-body gaming experience.


  • Personalized play – Project Natal provides an in-game experience in which the player’s face and voice are recognized. Greet and speak to characters in the game, or simply step into view of the sensor to log into Xbox LIVE and connect with friends.


  • Off-the-couch play – Project Natal provides gameplay that gets you off the couch, on your feet and in the fun. Each Project Natal experience is designed to get players moving, laughing, cheering and playing together.


  • How does Project Natal work? – Project Natal is the world’s first system to combine an RGB camera, infra-red depth sensor, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software that brings Project Natal experiences to every Xbox 360 console. The Project Natal sensor tracks full-body movement and individual voices, creating controller-free fun and social entertainment available only on Xbox 360.

    Being an in-development project, Microsoft’s Natal has no release date, nor a price, so stay tuned for more information.