Project Natal tech headed to PCs - Gates

Microsoft chairman tells CNET that the technology behind Xbox 360's motion-sensing camera is also in development for Windows-based machines--and will be used for much more than gaming.

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Microsoft doesn't just want to bring gesture recognition to the Xbox with Project Natal. It also wants the technology in Windows, according to a very good source--Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

In an interview with CNET News this week, Gates talked about a world in which depth-sensing cameras, such as the one Microsoft is adding to the Xbox, allow people to control their PCs, game devices, and televisions.

Speaking about all of the technology Microsoft has cooking in its labs, Gates said: "I'd say a cool example of that, that you'll see... in a little over a year, is this (depth) camera thing." Gates said it was not just for games, "but for media consumption as a whole, and even if they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication."

Gates said it is an example where the project started in Microsoft research but is now being commercialized by both the Xbox and Windows units. "Both the Xbox guys and the Windows guys latched onto that and now, even since they latched onto it, the idea of how it can be used in the office is getting much more concrete and is pretty exciting," he said.

Using one's body to control devices makes a lot of sense, Gates said. "I think the value is as great for if you're in the home, as you want to manage your movies, music, home system type stuff; it's very cool there," he said. "And I think there's incredible value as we use that in the office connected to a Windows PC. So Microsoft research and the product groups have a lot going on there because you can use the cost reduction that will take place over the years to say, why shouldn't that be in most office environments."

Gates actually dropped the first hint of Natal during his joint appearance with Steve Jobs at the D: All Things Digital conference in 2007. "Imagine a game machine where you're just going to pick up the bat and swing it, or the tennis racket and swing it," Gates said.

Moderators Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher mocked Gates, saying such a technology already exists, and it's called the Wii. But Gates disagreed. "No, that's not it. You can't pick up your tennis racket." He later added, "You can't sit there with your friends and do those natural things," he said. "That's a 3D positional device. This is video recognition. This is a camera seeing what's going on."

Discussion

415 comments
pitchblack3
pitchblack3

Things will look good esp. for fighting games then. The PC really needs some beat em ups.

JHCP
JHCP

hope it isn't late

rf85
rf85

down with the mouse and the keyboard!! i wanna sit in my bed and have my computer talk to me in the morning :P

locorider
locorider

i hope milo can transform to bumblebee or optimus prime!!!

Wolf-5
Wolf-5

This is news I like. I mostly game on the PC, so this should be very intresting.

Evil_penguin21
Evil_penguin21

there is no way in hell that this is gonna come out without major problems. i already know alot of people are gonna buy this the first day and return in within a month or two for some defect. once they get all the bugs out though.....this will be an efficent step into new technology and what we can do with it

ccmaster86
ccmaster86

This is awesome! I was hoping there were going to expand to other UI's and not just gaming..Minority Report anybody? How cool would that be! I'm also hoping for a controller/motion combo though. As in physically holding some type of gun for FPS's or your own tennis racket for a tennis game. It must be exciting to be a dev right now with all the new tech coming out :)

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

If only the same level of imagination was used in game development that is used in hardware / technology development, then maybe we wouldnt have to endure 'generic FPS after genenric FPS'. I do however sense an overpowering influx of 'shovelware' once Natal is released. MS have simply provided devs with a potentially powerfull and ingenious device, however as always, it is the responsibility of these devs to harness this potential.

Crzy1
Crzy1

Could see this being really cool when mixed with stereoscopic 3D, especially in the form of a UI. Could have various icons/widgets set at different depths and be able to access them with gestures. Would it be practical? Probably not, but it would be really cool to show off. On another note, I really wish some of these companies would start to back Novint and their Falcon controller. It seems like an odd device, but the level of realism it adds to the few games that support it is startling. Seems that everyone is stuck more on feeding "realistic" motion commands into devices than having devices feed realistic motion back to us which, from my experience, is a lot more realistic than swinging my arm around in the air. Just my opinion.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

Good. How about keeping it out of gaming in all, let the PC users have it. Let the Wii be the Wii and keep the PS3 and 360 the way they are. I'm cool with that Natal as long as we don't get a lot of shovelware, which I'm sure we are!

melante
melante

Didn't Bill retire??

izmickey
izmickey

Natal has great potential, lets hope they can tap into that potential. I think its still a long way from making keyboards and the mouse obsolete. games that work WELL with natal wont come out as soon as natal is released. It will take a while before that happens. With natal i hope useless games wont come out, but then again, the xbox360 library is good so who cares.

Trogeton
Trogeton

That is Awesome.. I think this is something dealing with out next gen gaming... YES this is great

MTMind2
MTMind2

@XeonForce "Does no one else share my fear of useless shovelware?" simple answer... nope. :-)

Halcalix
Halcalix

@XeonForce I do agree with you. Now-a-days, it just seems that technology for game consoles is all about motion sensing. Nintendo already established a success with motion sensing and I guess other companies wish to have that success as well.

XeonForce
XeonForce

Reguardless of the origins of motion-sensing technology, don't you think recently it has been getting out of hand? Does no one else share my fear of useless shovelware? The curse of the Wii, etc, etc... >_>'

imaps3fanboy
imaps3fanboy

@Xeonforce. Sony was the first to do the motion sensing thig w/o controllers w/ the Eyetoy, and it probably sold farely well.

badman11226
badman11226

holy crap the Wii killer damn. This is way superior than the Wii control plus of course Wii failed in the graphics and constantly putting out crappy games, Imagine playing Tiger Woods on this holy crap.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

shani_boy101, Natal + Holographic technology = Done! : )

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

Gate-sy, welcome back. I would buy one for my computer any day. bring it on!

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

the only thing i'd ever call a revolution would be an OS like in Iron Man with a gesture-recognizing screen that lets you seamlessly flick things to your holodeck and play around with it there. give me that, microsoft.

MTMind2
MTMind2

@synthetiksin who says "Before the wii was released microsoft talked tons and tons of crap about motion controls" such as? to be honest, i dont recall ms saying anything negative about the wii before launch, if anything it was the opposite, especially peter moore when he was at ms at the time. besides, ms released a motion sensing games controller for the pc back in 1998/1999 (yep, thats 7-8 years _before_ the wii), so its not as if they were against the idea (or copying). i think the most you would find ms saying before the wii launch was that motion sensing is nothing new, not that motion sensing was bad.

synthetiksin
synthetiksin

It's funny. Before the wii was released microsoft talked tons and tons of crap about motion controls. Now they are trying to spread it beyond the scope of what they originally ripped it off for.

MTMind2
MTMind2

@XeonForce who says "Why does anyone give a crap about Natal, or any other motion control devices?" maybe because some of us have an imagination and therefore can see the possibilities that motion control devices offer..... only joking ;-) but i do see great possibilities. for example, im more of a hardcore type of gamer, i *like* my controller, im not going to give it up without a fight, so for me combining natal with the controller in games would be the best of both worlds. i can think of a few examples where such a combination will enhance the gaming experience. can you think of any? (go on, give it a try, put your skepticism and negativity aside for a moment and consider the idea :-)). edit: mrklorox covers many of the points i was thinking of in his post.

XeonForce
XeonForce

Why does anyone give a crap about Natal, or any other motion control devices? If Natal wasn't being specifically developed for the 360, I doubt anyone would give it a second glance. Let's see... push a button, or wave my arm? Is this big news or another way of convincing people to buy an over-priced accessory? I'm sure MS and Sony are both thinking, "If Nintendo can sell this crap, so can we!"

trw534
trw534

sounds cool i wish it would come out now.

azzman
azzman

aslong as they don't abolish traditional means of control I will happily agree that devoloping new technology to appeal to a wider audience is a great thing More people will buy it , so the industry becomes richer , better games for us

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I actually think Natal belongs more on a PC than any gaming machine. I think it would give people more options to mod and expand with its motion detection, but I believe it will only work well in certain games for the 360.PC can have Natal, let us keep our regular controller or else I'm going back to my Dreamcast!!

ej1041
ej1041

natal is 4 weirdos... no offence 360 fanboys.

someja
someja

Disabled in what way? Mentally or like physically, if mentally having to move yur hands in a certain way would still be irritating, and if its physical, its easier to click a mouse than keep moving your hands non-stop XD, and also, pc's have always been a sort of thing where you just sit there and do whatever, changing that is changing the pc completely, its just not right, I am sure many people who love the computer prefer the mouse and keyboard to moving about. Also thats what makes the pc so unique, it has a keyboard and a mouse, not a controller or Wii remote or motion sensor or whatever, why would you want to destroy something unique, we are all unique do you want us all to suddenly modify to be alike? It would be a disaster.

dark_rage864
dark_rage864

@ someja Dude.. how is it dumb?! Keyboards and mouses has been going on for years now, it's time for something new to come out. Motion control makes life incredibly easier and especially for disabled people.

someja
someja

rofl, this is dumb for the pc, the pc is for a mouse and keyboard, NOT MOTION CONTROL DAMNIT! Its the classic way for pro gamers on the pc to use a damn mouse and keyboard etc, putting motion on a computer is just dumb...

SportzGamer73
SportzGamer73

Wow. This is going to change gaming forever!

Melty123
Melty123

I'm all thumbs up for NATAL, I think it would be cool and more easier to do stuff with NATAL but I kinda like my wireless controller for games and I think its even cooler than moving and stuff, but I'm really wanting to see where this is going.

sun_rider95
sun_rider95

WOOOW very cool If it works I will have to move my computer in another room ,mine is to small for that

hajjjustin
hajjjustin

i really want this system to work i just have a funny feeling that there is going to be no 3rd party support, and it will eventually just be another 300 dollar peace of tech collecting dust like PS3. i just hope that the developers see the potential. i tell you what i wont buy it until i see that the developers are realy going to back this system up with at least a few games.

forhekset
forhekset

Glad to see it's gaining momentum as a new way to operate UIs. Unless they really push hard to get games out for it, that's the only thing it's gunna be good for. And I have no problems with that.

mrklorox
mrklorox

@totaleklypse: You move by using the left thumbstick. You shoot by pulling the trigger. You adjust the camera with the right thumbstick. Why do so many people have it programmed in their heads that Natal is intended to replace the controller? It's meant to ALLOW one to not need to use a controller in order to use an interface. That doesn't mean using Natal and using a controller will be mutually exclusive. Think leaning left/right to peer around corners in FPS games. Think giving your squad orders via hand gestures (like spec ops do in real life). Think games auto inverting the Y axis on the fly when you and a buddy hotseating the controller (it can recognize the face of the person holding it and then change to their profile). Think being able to aim and shoot at two individual targets simultaneously (if they wise up and release a revamped version of the current controller that is two separate halves instead of one big one). For the PC it could be used like TrackIR headtracking. There are videos of it all over the net. I couldn't see many 360 games use any head tracking functions other than side lean since one tends to be sitting much further away than when on the PC. Looking in directions wouldn't feel right without the screen covering a large field of view.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

uh ok....@beardrewz, how about we try taking the over-zealousness down a notch...just sayin'. Look, very everybody has an idea of what Natal can do, at least from the E3 presentation of it, but I'm not ready to jump on any Natal hype-train until I see it more in action--especially for the PC (to be honest I'm not really interested in it for 360, as I don't have one). I'm going to use a good bit of reserve on Natal's true ability, until they give me more to see. And honestly, I think that's what a lot of people are going to do.

mayceV
mayceV

mech warrior should incorparate natal that would be a blast!

mrklorox
mrklorox

Not surprised. At least now we probably won't have to hack drivers to make it work how we want. @games100: It was never intended to beat the controller. If anything, it will make controller based games better.

iamamanami
iamamanami

What Natal can do is brick-breaking and more bricks breaking. What Milo can do is being Milo1, Milo2, Milo3, Milo4, Milo5...

wahyudil
wahyudil

I believed .... PC will be the best ideal place for natal rather than XBOX360 ....

Redcavalier1
Redcavalier1

Ya know, the more I think about natal, and the more I think that playing a game without physical contact with anything sounds more like a chore than fun. Of course I could be wrong, but controlling a physical mass and having feedback from that mass (I'm not only talking about force feedback here, but a more general kind of feedback) seems much more comfortable than moving my body randomly to do x task and then having only visual and audio feedback. Anyway, it's still to soon to judge what natal will really do.

games100
games100

I can't wait for this!, Just think about all the new and creative games you will be able to play......but it will never beat the controler