Microsoft Unveils Kinect Controller and New Xbox 360
LOS ANGELES - As the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) ramps up, Microsoft started off strong by announcing two new pieces of hardware, the Kinect motion controller and a new version of the Xbox 360, at its E3 press conference.
Kinect is the official name of the technology previously known as Project Natal . Kinect uses a special camera system to turn your entire body into a controller. Microsoft demoed several applications for this technology, showing off how a wave of the hand can navigate menus and control games.
While the basics of how Kinect will serve as a gaming controller have been known for a year now, Microsoft unveiled some new ways to use it today. Kinect can connect users to a video chat channel, and it works for anyone with a Kinect module or a person on a normal webcam with a Windows Live account. Even more interesting, Kinect also has voice recognition controls. Kinect was demoed controlling a movie with simple verbal commands such as “Xbox, play,” and “Xbox pause.”
Microsoft also gave a sneak peak at some of the 15 games that will be available for Kinect at launch. Most of them will be familiar to those who have played Nintendo Wii games. They take advantage of motion controls to involve player more in the game, but instead of using a physical controller, the player uses his or her entire body. Titles ranged from sports games nearly identical to those seen on the Wii, to dancing games, racing games and “adventure” games that involve everything from conveyor belts to white water rafting.
While the concept of Natal/Kinect is not new, and motion controls are years old, the demos of Kinect games served to show that Microsoft has put significant thought into expanding the genre instead of copying it. It also showed that Kinect is responsive enough to be a viable gaming device. Every demo seemed to go smoothly without lag, regardless of the intensity of the arm and leg flailing.
Kinect will launch November 4, but Microsoft did not give any pricing details.
At the end of the press conference, Microsoft also announced a refresh of the entire Xbox 360 gaming system. With a smaller, more angular design, the Xbox 360 also gets a 250GB hard drive and built in Wi-Fi, all for $299. The previous model had half the storage and no Wi-Fi. Microsoft’s Don Mattrick said it would be in stores by the end of the week.