Microsoft exhibited its new motion control system, Project Natal on the eve of its annual Techfest which comprised of demonstrations of the latest tech from the boffins in its labs. The device had already been shown last year at E3 but this is the first time the add-on was demonstrated up close and with hints of pricing.
Natal itself is a 12 inch bar with sensors which are capable of measuring a room’s depth, light and the size and motion of two gamers as well as multiple players taking turns.
The response is practically instantaneous, demonstrably quicker than the Wii which of course uses an actual controller. Microsoft worked out that there are something like 10 "degrees of freedom," essentially, motions for a human body. And yes, that is a lot.
Should you place your hand behind your back Natal will use its clever probability function to situate your avatar's arm just as you have it positioned with your persons. Additionally there are voice sensors which can be used to give voice commands and will even remember what voice goes with which player. This itself will add a new dimension to this sort of interactive gaming.
Although only one game was demoed, a sort of dodge ball one, Don Mattrick, senior vice president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business affirmed that there would be several more games available on launch day, that includes games from well-known studio brands.
Forbes estimates that given the technology is made from “off the shelf goods” that production costs for each device should amount to no more than $40 (£25). Do not get your hopes up just yet, this is Microsoft remember, a multi-billion dollar software/hardware producer; they didn’t get that way by passing on savings to the end user.
With consumers "it has tested off the charts [with] tremendous feedback," said Mattrick.
Adding, "We won't price fully off that feedback." The Wii still has a suggested retail price of $199 (£130) and this will be the competition Microsoft will most likely meet first. Although Natal is technically an add on, £25 - £130 houses quite a large margin.
How much will you be willing to pay for the Natal?