The world has known that Microsoft was bringing a motion control system
to market for months and months now. We've heard it referred to as
"Project Natal" for as long as we can remember, and we were assuming
that the company would simply retain the name after all of this time. We
should have known better. As E3 begins in California this morning,
Microsoft is making that motion system official, and it will go by the
name "Kinect." It's impossible to see this name and not think of the Kin, a new feature phone line recently launched by none other than
Microsoft. Whether or not the two are connected remains a mystery, but
it's hard to imagine that this is a pure coincidence.
The company debuted Kinect in an unusual way: by integrating it into a
performance by Cirque Du Soleil at USC. The Xbox 360 add-on will give a
fresh take on a 4-year old console, with a built-in camera and
microphone enabling gamers to actually act out movements in front of
their TV and have their on-screen character react accordingly. A number
of launch titles were also introduced, and while most of them are rather
simply titles (much like Wii Sports was), there is a report that Star
Wars will eventually launch a Kinect-enabled game.
Details on pricing are short, but we're hearing that a November release
date is all but certain. That makes perfect sense given the upcoming
holiday season, but it's still a long, long time from now. Another
unique aspect that wasn't revealed until today, however, is Video Chat.
It's hard to say how many people will actually want to stand in front of
their televisions to chat, but at least it will be an option.