Video: Microsoft Project Natal for Xbox 360

I don't care how well the games work—I'll buy this for the media player controls alone.

The face recognition is cool, but who leaves their Xbox on all the time? It sounds like an asthmatic dump truck. Matter of fact, the horrible racket the Xbox 360 makes when it's on is the what makes it feel less like a real set-top box solution and more like a slapdash hack.

Project Natal dev kits are just hitting the offices of developers this week, so don't expect to actually be using this until sometime well into next year.

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19 Responses to Video: Microsoft Project Natal for Xbox 360

  1. brianary says:

    Gestural sign-language input is the future.

  2. shMerker says:

    This is not the first time I have seen new technology promoted with an episode of the Jetsons, and it probably will not be the last.

  3. knodi says:

    It’s not good marketing if a doofus like me can see it’s fake even in your carefully edited demo.

    He scans the bottom of the skateboard, with his hands covering huge chunks? Does the xbox just interpolate the artwork? Wow!

    Millard Fillmore? Unless this thing has groundbreaking voice recognition software that has never been seen before, even in university research labs, a general history trivia game would be maddening. Will we start seeing warnings on the packing “Rated NS: Native Speakers only”.

    And don’t get me started on fighting/sports games that are only playable by people who would rather be outside kicking ass or grinding rails.

    I want to believe, but you guys (ms) need to tone down the hyperbole a bit to suck me in.

  4. Drew says:

    KNODI,of course it’s fake.It’s called “Project” Natal for a reason.They are currently working on it and they just wanted a video to demonstrate what was coming up in the future.

  5. MichaelFoody says:

    This is based on Zcam right? That was pretty well received from what I recall. I’m sort of skeptical about it working even remotely as well as it seemed to in the demo but I think bits and pieces of it are practical and cool. I think most of the games could work, I bet they could do voice recognition for trivia well enough if they gave you lots of false positives. What I really hope though is that they release a less ugly, slimmer, quieter, 360 with wireless.

  6. knodi says:

    Hey, why’d this thing change my name to Knodi? That’s my moniker on, but there was a “Name” field here, and I entered “Colin”. Oh well-

    Yeah, I know it’s just a project. It’s just that, as a tech nerd, they’d have sucked me in much better if they’d shown things that were remotely possible. Okay, you can convince me that the voice recognition could work. But I’m skeptical that my other two objections will be demonstrated on consumer electronics within the next decade.

    That said, the real problem is that this demo is meant to impress the everyman, and get them thinking about possibilities, and that’s not how I was viewing it. So I revise my opinion down to merely “hey, that’s cool. can’t wait to see it in stores!”

  7. shMerker says:

    @Drew #4: Yeah, but it would be nice if they didn’t demonstrate things that are flatly impossible, like scanning objects that are obscured from the camera’s view. Also I think “ballsy” would be a generous way to characterize the promise of consumer software that does things that hasn’t yet proven possible with much more processing power than a 5 year old gaming PC.

    Basically it all raises the question of where all the content is coming from. Developers are already giving up on the Wii since it doesn’t allow them to port they’re 360 and PS3 games without completely overhauling them. Now there’s going to be a similar barrier between the PS3 and 360.

    I think it was especially nonsensical that the Natal video included a clip of a controllerless skateboard game and that the conference also touted the skateboard controller for the new Tony Hawk game. Which is it Microsoft? tailor-made control devices for specific game experiences, or a catch-all motion/voice control solution? they can’t both be the future. How does Acitivision like having Microsoft telling everyone that their expensive controller is going to be obsolete in a year?

  8. Black Jack says:

    The Wii is the new Power Glove. It’s going to take ten years and a crazy peripheral that works before we’ll forget that disappointment.

    If this Project Natal actually works (which I doubt), they’ll have a hell of a time convincing anyone. Sure, some people will buy anything; but those people don’t need convincing. Those of us who do need convincing aren’t going to buy it.

  9. jimjambandit says:

    ok, 2 things.
    1: How many push ups CAN Chuck do? Come on i NEED to know!
    2: I would like to hereby patent Motion Capture Porn movies

  10. OntarioJer says:

    It’s a trick question-Everyone knows Chuck Norris stays still and the earth moves up and down!

  11. Andy says:

    Boy, it’s nice to see a site that’s not drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Every other comments section I’ve seen are basically asking where they should type in their credit card numbers.

    I’m sorry, but as fun as all of that looks, a huge amount of that is simply not possible by any one of the necessary disciplines, like voice recognition mentioned above.

  12. Dean Putney says:

    Great, another way for me to look like a flailing crazy person dancing around shaking invisible things in front of my TV.

    “Millard Fillmore!”

    Sorry, I had a spasm there. Now rather than throwing a wiimote into my family members’ faces, I can actually elbow or kick them while we “play” “interactive” “games” together. Finally, an excuse to punch my TV.

  13. RedShirt77 says:

    1. Does this work?

    2. Why build this for an xbox 360 which will rrod in 2 years? we need a more expensive fire starter?

  14. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    there is not one second of that video that is not utter vaporware bullshit.

    mainly the body tracking stuff, humans are very good at the pattern recognition skills required to make sense of a room full of people all limbs moving about, computers can just about tell where your head is. not even the best AIs at MIT would be able to come close to what is being demonstrated here.

    the jedi like guy at the start, who’s head follows the by round the room, this only makes sense from our (the camera filming the commercial)’s point of view. it would all be wrong from the boy’s point of view

    it’s bad interface design too. the poor girl holding her arms out on her imaginary steering wheel would get pretty tired

    You’d actually have to be good at soccer to play the soccer game here. same with the beat em up. if you’re good at it already you don’t really need the game.

    The dress sequence is also bullshit. the technology isn’t even close to being feasible.

    and yes, it’s fucking incredible how the xbox knows how to interpolate the skateboard art covered by the boy’s fingers.

    microsoft, don’t get the marketing guys to guess what is feasible without speaking to any engineers.

  15. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    i just watched Peter Molyneux taking on youtube about project natal, ‘pparently they’ve created an AI character capable of passing the turing test, just for a demo of project natal. that’s a bit like building a ferrari from scratch to show that things roll downhill.

    i may end up being wrong, but i smell bullsheet.

  16. RedShirt77 says:

    YEah, no way this works. Also, who wants a entertainment system that shuts off every time you say “goodnight”.

    It’s not like remote controls are such a burden that we have to be freed from their shackles and then shackled with limiting our vocab in our own homes so as to keep from telling our TV’s to do something dumb.

    This type of product could be possible with some blue tooth gloves sandals etc, and put Wii fit to shame, but what they are suggesting here seems silly and the xbox 360 couldn’t handle it.

  17. soggomeiser says:

    Looking at the video again of Claire and Milo’s interaction the angles are wrong. Unless the panel she was viewing is a new unknow 3D panel we should see it from the same perspective as she is. This means Milo is looking off to her right when she is “interacting” with Milo and not directly at her as it appears from our viewing angle…

    Another thing that points to this being a prerecorded/acted demo is the racing footage. When she steers into the pits her hands are still pointed towards the wall on the girls right but the car steers a little to the left.

    Another “Vapourware” warning is the fact that there are no longer any links at microsoft or the xbox site regarding Project Natal.

    It’s all hype I’m afraid. Wouldn’t it be great if this was coming in the near future though?

  18. zappaz says:

    “You guys are wrong! MS have all of these worked out! Go watch the demo again, you guys don’t know what you are talking about” … glad to finally found a site and comments not made by sheeps

    Regarding to voice recognition….don’t get me started on my annoying automated voice recognition software from Bell Canada when you call them. I doubt comparably cheap xbox hardware will be anything better than dedicated commercial hardware that still sucks

    Gesture control is actually possible. MS licensed the technology from GestureTek ( but think about how complicated it will be for the game programmer to program….plus adding voice control and other things.

    What likely will happen is you end up seeing bunch of stupid games that use the new motion control but the game itself sucks, pretty much like the chicken shoot for wii.

  19. Marlet says:

    That better be like it is doing to be in the real life if you get what i mean
    Free iPod | Free iPhone

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