It’s E3 minus one, and already Microsoft delivered on its promise of something big. Let’s face it, everyone was surprised. We all knew that there would be some “waggle” involved, but no-one actually expected that they’d go and make an evolutionary leap.
Project Natal is really more then motion capture, and the point of the “Milo” demonstration was to concentrate the focus on that. By removing the peripheral from the equation, the immersion becomes less about thinking, and more about doing.
People across the blogosphere, twittersphere, and all the other new-media arenas have been mixed on the point and possibility of PN. Some, like myself, blown away as the prospect. Others, critical of the “gimmick” that it provides. And let’s face it – they do have a point. Everyone remembers being blown away by Nintendo’s Wii demonstration all those years ago, and very quickly calculated the demise of the controller. How wrong they were…
But PN goes a little further then a new kind of motion capture. By removing the handle altogether, the focus is almost completely on the ability to interact with the console, rather then the controller. The gimmicks (driving, fighting, and so on) are of less interest to me, in reflection, when you have advanced voice and sight recognition. This is the ultimate trifecta, it’s the sort of thing we wanted in Virtual Reality, but were about 20 years behind the technology.
I can’t tell you how exciting the possibilities Being able to interface with your game in ways we haven’t seen, including completely customizable experiences in relation to your mood, your demeanor, your gender, and so forth. You boot up the game to fight, but the game detects from your voice and facial construct that you aren’t feeling too great, or maybe too tired. It goes easy on you, and your teammates might even try to perk you up.
The “Milo” demonstration highlights a large aspect of what I think Microsoft are focusing on. They aren’t trying to create a more advanced form of motion capture, they’re going for a more advanced form of *the* custom experience. A game can currently learn your playstyle and modify the AI to meet it. A game can currently accept basic voice commands at a reasonably fast pace to command units. A game can currently detect gravitational input to replicate balance and movement.
But no games can interact with you on a one-to-one basis. None can recognize you by your voice and face and remember what you enjoy or where you were at. I can imagine a ‘Minority Report’ situation now. Very cool.
MS have managed to detect where games were moving towards and finally took the initiative to funnel all their lovely millions into the tech. Imagine the day when you truly feel like you are part of the fight – it might not be too far off.
Now, for my disclaimer, so I may not be shot down in the future. I know this is still a concept. And it has not been proven. And it still could go the way of the ‘mote. But it’s not too difficult to see where it could run if it was developed properly. Imagine 2, 3, or 4 cameras to create a 360 environment. Wow.
Sony and Nintendo better have something amazing.
Official site for Project Natal.