Does the name Project Natal mean anything to you?
If not, don’t worry, you might know it by the name it was given once it was out of secret production: The Xbox Kinect. The Kinect takes motion gaming to a whole new level by taking players up off their couches and dropping the classic “waggle” tactic of other motion gaming systems and making you the controller.
Previous motion gaming incarnations may have been meant to be played up and moving around, but those tactics were often left by the wayside in favor of sitting on the couch and playing, but not with the Kinect.
So at this point you’re probably asking “How does it work?”
Good question, it’s something I asked myself for a long time before doing a little bit of research. The Kinect uses an advanced infrared imaging system and facial recognition software to “recognize” players who are using it.
It will track how you’re moving, using simple motions for actions like moving cursors and selecting menus, and more advances movements for immersive in-game controls. It also has a built in microphone so you can talk to your Xbox 360 system. Give it commands like “Open Tray”, “Play Game”, and “Rewind” to command various features of the system using just your voice.
The Kinect is doing some pretty awesome things with its software, too. Microsoft released the Kinect Fun Labs to showcase all the things the Kinect is capable of and give gamers an idea of what kinds of things are in development for it as well.
The Kinect can take still shots of objects and turn them into 3D models you can play and interact with or let you draw on pictures in 3D with its finger tracking technology. It’s taking motion gaming in general to whole new heights with its advanced imaging features.
Games like Dance Central are taking the world by storm, giving players more to do than wave a controller around and tracking the movements of their entire body including watching their dance steps as well. Sports and fitness centered gamers have a lot to look forward to as well with their Fitness Evolved and Kinect Sports series’ of games. Games like Fable: The Journey and Kinect Star Wars put players in the shoes of adventurers and Jedi, perfect roles for action and adventure gamers to fill.
Even more than just Kinect exclusive games, there are dozens of games that are enhanced by the Kinect’s voice and motion controls.
The Kinect isn’t just good for playing games, either. It has lots of great features for viewing and sharing media and communicating with friends. The Kinect works as a live video camera so you can video chat through your TV with other friends who have a Kinect. It also takes full advantage of the new Dashboard, letting you use the voice commands to navigate and search for content quickly and easily.
With so many features and the absolutely massive amount of potential the Kinect has, it’s the perfect accessory for any Xbox 360 owner that wants to get more out of their console.