Yesterday, I was invited to a private Project Natal sneak peek. The event was held at the beautiful EZ Studios in New York City. I met with a member of the Project Natal product team. She gave us a brief explanation of the Natal vision and gave us only a few technical details:
- RBG camera
- [Work in progress] Use voice commands to control services i.e. music, videos, movies
Once we were briefed -- we were given the opportunity to play a dodge ball (like) game. It was a great experience. There I was (without a controller) standing, kicking, swatting, jumping and working up a sweat. The responsiveness of the Natal system was incredible and very accurate. If I physically moved forward, back, swung faster or slower my dodge ball avatar responded in kind.
"Our advances in computer vision and audio-signal processing," Malvar notes, "have enabled the development of Project Natal, a new level of experience for Xbox, in which user gestures and voice take the place of the standard game controller.
-- Rico Malvar, managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond
I have met a number of employees from the Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division. They are all passionate about the products they support but the Project Natal product team boarders on evangelical. It's not the scary evangelical -- it's more in line with a profound passion. They are very proud of the work they have accomplished and can't wait to share their vision with the XBOX community this holiday season. Although there has been no public announcement on pricing Natal will most certainly be on my holiday wish list.