Project Natal: Time to throw out your game-controllers

Microsoft brings human-computer interaction without an electronic input device to the masses.

During the E3 2009 expo, which was held from the 2nd to the 5th of June, Microsoft presented Project Natal. The project brings human-computer interaction without an electronic input device to the masses. By capturing your full body movement and your voice (and being able of doing this for several people at the same time) it brings gameplay to an entirely new level.

Here is the video:

Interesting to see is that again activities within games which up till now didn’t seem fun enough for the player to be involved in, are suddenly becoming much more interesting simply because the type of interaction has changed (the video shows an example of changing the tires during a race). The same thing happened when the Nintendo Wii was introduced. By adding more physical engagement, the fun-factor of certain activities is increased.

Could this be a general rule within gaming and other activities which involve play? More physical engagement equals more fun? Off course it’s not applicable to every type of game, and the amount of fun or ‘satisfaction’ one gets from playing a game isn’t only determined by the degree of physical engagement (think of puzzle or strategy games where this is achieved on a more reflective level), but it certainly proves to be quite a big factor.

This technology will soon find it’s way out of the gaming industry and into other industries, as Steven Spielberg already indicated at the E3. The question now is how big it’s impact will be.

This is a pivotal moment that will carry with it a wave of change, the ripples of which will reach far beyond video games – Steven Spielberg

Dennis Koks

Dennis Koks (1987, The Netherlands) is a designer | conceptual thinker for interactive media and co-founder of Transparent Spaces. Dennis is fascinated about the social impact of interactive design and how it can improve our daily lives.

6 comments on this article

  1. Isn’t this a great family. A perfect example of the AMERICAN DREAM!!!! What a life 😉

  2. looks very very cool…. I am wondering if Johnny Lee was part of the dev. team on this project. I understand he is currently working for Microsoft Research…. This is really something he could have come up with 😉

    Johan Louwers

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  4. With all due respect…. but I don’t believe it will be anything like this. If you know how much trouble other companies have with face recognition (putting a the person with the right face, not recognizing a face) and how quircky all non-wii motion sensors are, how much trouble augmented reality has with making distinctions between the object and the background…. this is a future vision.
    Something that I cant believe Nintendo didn’t think of themselves… but then dismissed as near impossible.

  5. MauriceMelchers on

    Agree with Koningwoning. I can’t see how this can be real. It’s a pity this gets the attention over the other E3 projects. I could see Sony’s Motion Controller happening on the current PS3, but Project Natal might not happen till the xbox 1480…

    It’s great to think out of the box when thinking up new concepts, but these should be kept outside the E3. And next to conceptmovies like:

  6. These technologies are already realistic… plus Natal will be released in 2011. Let’s not always be negative towards Microsoft. Give them some slack 🙂