Drake Martinet

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D8 Tech Demo: Microsoft’s Project Natal

Microsoft takes the D8 stage to live-demo Project Natal, its new gesture-based controller for the Xbox. The experience is somewhere between the Nintendo Wii and Tom Cruise’s computer in “Minority Report,” with hands, arms, legs and even heads interacting with the game.

The system works using cameras and microphones, along with some fancy programming to remove the controller pad from play. The device has been compared with the rival Nintendo Wii in target markets as well. With Natal, Microsoft (MSFT) aims to include groups outside of the typical young male demographic in gaming.


Microsoft takes to the stage for a live demo of Project Natal.

9:42 am: Kara joins Walt on stage, and Walt asks the audience to think about gesture as a way to interface with devices in general.

9:43 am: Molly O’Donnell joins Walt and Kara to talk about Natal.

9:44 am: O’Donnell says there are 23 million members of Xbox Live, who are doing all kinds of things on their devices.

9:45 am: O’Donnell says the company is trying to invite new consumers in.

9:46 am: She demos the “skeletal tracking,” how Natal tracks the joints on the body.

9:47 am: She says there is both a 3-D camera, an RGB camera and a wide-field microphone to capture the player’s voice and the other voices in the room.

9:48 am: Kara’s son, Louie, joins them to help with the demo.

9:49 am: The onstage group is demoing a “concept game,” that looks like one-player dodgeball. Not an actual production game.

9:51 am: Kara has a try after Louie and quickly makes Louie take over.

9:52 am: O’Donnell, pressed by Walt and Kara, says games will be announced in a few weeks.

9:53 am: She hints that there will be online sharing with Natal.

9:54 am: The real name will be announced, along with games, at Microsoft’s E3 event coming up in three weeks.

9:54 am: O’Donnell announces that everyone at the conference will be getting a free Natal when it is launched.

9:56 am: Demo over, D8 goes on a 30-minute coffee break.

A note about our coverage: This liveblog is not an official transcript of the conversation that occurred onstage. Rather, it is a compilation of quotes, paraphrased statements and ad-lib observations written and posted to the Web as quickly as possible. It is not intended as a transcript and should not be interpreted as one.

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