Project Natal: Look Mom, No Hands

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Imagine a future game world where your body and mind control all the actions and movements of the game experience. There are no controllers, no accessories, no remotes, wands or joysticks. It's a vision that people have been dreaming about for a long time.

Nintendo was the first to hit a home run with this concept when they came out with the Wii. Now, Microsoft may be advancing this vision with a controller-less gaming experience called Project Natal. Sony recently demonstrated a prototype motion tracking controller for the Playstation 3 as well. To say these concepts are close to reality today is mind blowing enough, but with the actual demos coming out - seeing is believing!

Rumored to be the replacement to Xbox 360, Project Natal, Microsoft's next generation game console invention is getting enormous attention after it's debut at E3 2009 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). But it's still unclear exactly what Microsoft wants Project Natal to be. It's obvious they are gearing up for a huge launch, but it's still unclear what Project Natal actually is: a console or an accessory to the current Xbox 360.

From what we can tell (without having seen it in person), Project Natal is a small black device with a web-camera, a motion-detecting capability, a built-in microphone and limb sensors that hone in on your every body movement. Whatever your harms, hands, legs and feet are doing - it knows. It even has voice and facial recognition that can be used to identify players. You can juggle multiple users and every move you make counts. It's like playing in a virtual game world.

What People Are Saying:
- "freakishly awesome"
- "insanely cool"
- "it did everything I wanted it to"
- "you have to stand up the whole time" (One person was hoping Project Natal would allow you to play while sitting on the couch, but for now it seems it's mostly a get-off-your-butt thing. So sad for all of us couch potatoes!)

From what you can see in the demo, Project Natal is controller-less. In other words, you are the controller and the master of whatever you want to do. Players will be able tobattle, box, kickbox, fight monsters, drive a race car (you actually mimic shifting gears and driving a steering wheel) or slam on your breaks - all without a controller. You spin out and wreck - it's on you. At one point in the demo, the race car player pulls in for a pit stop while another player has to mimic the motion for tightening lug nuts by doing forward thrusts with an invisible hydraulic drill.

Release Date is TBD - the word so far from Microsoft reps is a confused release time-frame between 2010 and 2011. You would think they would aim for the holiday Fall 2010 season - we can only hope. One thing's for sure though, it's not likely to be cheap especially if Project Natal is a separate console replacing Xbox 360.

It would be nice to jump on some negatives on Project Natal, but so far, quite frankly, there aren't many. So the cat's out of the bag and it will be up to SONY Playstation and Nintendo to come up with something to rival Natal.


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