Microsoft today unveiled Kinect for Xbox 360, previously code-named "Project Natal." Kinect is a controller-free gaming device that will be officially annoucnd at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles (E3).
Microsoft's Xbox accessory is a motorised camera housing microphones and sensors that is able to scan and capture players so they appear in games as themselves or as "avatars", graphical representations that mimic their every movement. The slim black Kinect sensor plugs directly into any Xbox 360. The Kinect device contains a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. It has the ability to recognize faces and voices.
With Kinect, game-players no longer need to memorize different commands for a hand-held control. "You are the controller," said Mike Delman, corporate vice president of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business. "You simply step in front of the sensor and Kinect sees you move, hears your voice and recognizes your face."
The Cirque du Soleil show at Los Angeles' Galan Center included few specifics about Kinect. Instead, it focused on the new experiences that it will enable. Microsoft will share more details - including the release date, and some of Kinect's initial game and entertainment offerings ? at a Monday morning news conference that will kick off E3.
Some of what industry experts is that Kinect can perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second. It isn?t affected by what a user is wearing or what type of furniture is around. And it recognizes voices and faces.
Kinect was top secret until last year?s E3 video was released. After the conference it once again returned to "black box" status even inside the walls of Microsoft as the Xbox team worked to move it from prototype to product.
Much more news is expected Monday, Delman said. He believes Kinect will help Xbox get closer to reaching its goal of becoming the hub of games and entertainment in every living room. But while hard-core gamers are and will remain the cornerstone of Xbox and Xbox LIVE, Microsoft wants to use Kinect to reach a broader, new audience.
There are upwards of 40 million Xbox 360 consoles on the market. Kinect could help significantly increase that number because it appeals to traditional non-gamers such as young children, mothers, and grandparents.
Both Microsoft and Sony are hoping to emulate the success of the Nintendo Wii when they launch their motion controllers later this year.
Sony will reveal games that exploit the capabilities of its Move motion controller at the show and new 3D features in the PlayStation 3, while Nintendo is expected to show off a 3D version of its DS handheld console that does not require special glasses.