Xbox Project Natal: 10 things you need to know

6. It enables characters to react to emotions
If upstaging Paul and Ringo, followed by Steven Spielberg's supportive words, didn't suggest the immense potential of Natal, then the fact that one of the world's greatest living videogame designers is already making demos and games with it did. Lionhead's Peter Molyneux has developed a (slightly creepy) virtual friend called Milo that can react to emotions the Xbox's new camera can see on your face. Pure sci-fi genius.

7. It'll most likely be part of Fable III
Mr Molyneux has also dropped some serious hints more recently that Natal control is going to be implemented in his forthcoming Fable III, cryptically telling press that: "I am going to say it's going to use a controller. But I've never said it's not going to use Natal." Peter then let the cat out of the bag by adding: "Do you really think … knowing me … I wouldn't want to use something like Natal? I mean that's just mad, man."

8. How does the tech actually work?
The Xbox version of the device shown off at E3, GamesCom and the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) features an RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and a custom processor running proprietary software. The camera looks for your body, locks onto it, measures the positioning in 3D space of 48 key joints in your anatomy and ignores everything else. Simple! So you can forget about the annoyances of poor lighting or furniture messing up the image calibration, which was perhaps the greatest disappointment with Sony's PlayStation EyeToy technology.

Microsoft project natal

9. It can take up to four players
It will support four-player multiplayer gaming in the same room. Although you're going to need a crib the size of an American hip-hop star's if you're really going to get the most out of four-player sessions on Natal-enabled beat-em-ups next year.

10. It gives us new possibilities
Natal is not ONLY a gaming or Xbox 360 technology. For many, Natal marks a key development stage in the gradual shift towards breaking down the barriers in human-machine interfaces. Marry Natal control to a full stereoscopic 3D gaming or interactive experience, for example and... well, you can imagine the possibilities.


Adam Hartley