Originally leaked to the public in the past under the name Project Natal, Microsoft has officially unveiled their new motion-controlled entertainment device with a new moniker: the Kinect. The unveiling took place at the E3 2010 conference in Los Angeles at the beginning of this week. Let's take a closer look at this new way to interface with video games.
The Kinect is said to add a more interactive gaming experience for users without the need for a remote control, and can be seen as sort of a competitor to the Nintendo Wii gaming console. To experience the interactivity that the Kinect has to offer in the realm of gaming and entertainment, it must be paired with the Xbox 360.
At the heart of the Kinect is a camera that is used to capture user movements and is also capable of facial recognition. An integrated microphone is added to give the Kinect voice recognition capabilities as well. The use of these technologies give the Kinect the ability to provide some non-traditional entertainment, and some samples of what the device will offer to its users were presented at the product's unveiling.
First up, and of most interest to the majority, are the gaming features. A Star Wars game was presented where you have to dodge attackers by actually moving your body, as well as partake in hand to hand combat. Dance Central, a title offered by MTV, is one that gets its participants to perform various dance moves. Obviously, the motion-controlled technology of the Kinect is ideal for such games where body movement is key.
A yoga game was presented, which used infrared detection to accurately detect player executions of various poses and stretches. Some athletic games were shown, such as soccer, volleyball, river rafting, and more. Not only do these type of games attract those looking for fun, but immersing the player with actual movements can also help promote fitness to a degree, making the Kinect an attractive gift for some parents to give to their children.
The motion-controlled technology also presents some other advantages beyond gaming. For instance, one can cycle through the Kinect's user interface from the comfort of their couch by making simple hand gestures. Among the features one can expect to see which would require navigating the Kinect's interface are services such as Netflix, Zune, as well as popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. As an added bonus, users can also expect to enjoy Video Chat, a feature of the Kinect that uses its integrated camera and microphone to allow for interaction with others via the device.
Those who want to get their hands on the Kinect will have to wait a while, as it is planned to hit shelves on November 4, right before the holiday season. As for pricing, expect the device to cost around $150, and some have it listed at approximately $300 when bundled with an Xbox 360 Arcade, and $400 when bundled with the Xbox 360 Elite. Although it remains to be seen how successful the Kinect will be versus other competitors such as the Wii, the pre-holiday release date should boost its appeal, as should the newly-announced release of the Xbox 360 Slim with its own improvements.
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