I will be discussing a new piece of hardware called Natal introduced by Microsoft. I used an article from CIO published June 2, 2009 (http://www.cio.com/article/493955/Microsoft_s_No_Controller_Natal_Steals_the_Show) and MSNBC published June 1, 2009 ( (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31050924/?GT1=43001)
This week Microsoft unveiled and displayed their new piece of gaming technology at E3, the biggest video game exhibition of the year. "Natal," the revolutionary addition to the Xbox 360 console eliminates the need of the controller. It can track a gamer's body movement, recognize facial expressions and voice, and scan images of real items. Not only does it recognize motion, natal responds. Microsoft Senior Vice President Don Mattrick alongside Steven Spielberg unveiled the video demonstration to the convention's attendees. The video showcased a young woman, Claire, interacting with Milo, a virtual boy. This is made possible by the combination of and the great advancements in existing technologies. "The 'Project Natal' prototype device showcased at the E3 press conference combines a camera, depth sensor, microphone and processor running proprietary software."
"Natal" was the grandest and most talked about item at E3. After seeing and hearing, there was no doubt for its number 1 position. Truly, a barrier has been broken. That barrier, Mattrick remarked in the video, is the wall resurrected between the player and the game by the controller. Individuals are no longer bound to the many buttons, thumbsticks, and trigger to enjoy and delve into the virtual world. This is the reason why Natal surpasses the Nintendo Wii. Although the Wii senses movement through infared technology, the person is still confined to his or her ability using the controller. Natal, makes direct interaction becomes a reality. Short of being sucked into the television, the player is emersed into another dimension. Also, the technology used by Natal could definitely be applied to other aspects of life for commercial use, from security to shopping. I was reminded of the movie Minority Report. In the film, when people walk into a store, sensors recognize and remember who the customer is and makes recommendations.
Although there is much amazement and fascination over Natal, there are a few visible problems. First, there has been no announcement on the release date for the product. Many products are introduced at E3 but do not become mainstream for a while. This showcase could be only the beginnings of the product. Natal may need to be perfected and paired with a lineup of adventures to be sold to the public. Second, it sounds expensive especially in a recession. Just looking at previous gaming packages like guitar hero and rock band which cost between $100 - $170 (not including tax), gives some insight about the possible price of Natal. Third, virtual reality does not measure up to the real world. Its always better to play a game of football with a bunch of friends rather than making throwing motions in front of a television screen.
Here are a couple of youtube links http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HluWsMlfj68