Microsoft has been busy making sure that its Xbox 360 is up to speed. The most recent evidence of this is the massive dashboard update announced last week, which includes Web-cam support. Though the update will mean Xbox 360s are ready for the camera, it doesn't mean that the camera is necessarily ready for the Xbox 360.
The camera will be ready in September, however, according to Aaron Greenberg, group marketing manager of Xbox Live. On a podcast hosted by coworker and director of Xbox Live programming Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, Greenberg said the camera will be released simultaneously in North America and Europe on September 19. [UPDATE] On his blog, Hryb corrected the European release info for the Xbox Live Vision. The camera will be available on October 2 in Europe and Asia (excluding Japan). Release dates for Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have not yet been announced.
"We're adding eyes to Live, if you will," said Greenberg, when detailing the function of the camera. The USB 2.0 peripheral, named Xbox Live Vision, will be compatible with PCs, and no drivers will be required for either machine. Greenberg also said that other Web cams won't work with the Xbox 360--the Xbox 360 cam was designed specifically for the 360.
The camera will show off some features even when gamers aren't actively using it. On the 360 dashboard, a new setting will let gamers set the background of the dashboard (like themes) and interact with it. Waving hands in the view of the camera when it's on its "watery" setting will cause the background to "undulate" and ripple as if underwater. Other options include an "edgy" setting (likened to a "bad music video" by Hryb) and a "dotty" setting.
A similar feature can be used with the visualizer in the Xbox 360's music player. The psychedelic effects will be set atop a background image that captures what's going on in the room for an instant dance party with personalized visuals.
The camera will also be used in several games, such as Activision's World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions, Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, and several Xbox Live Arcade games, including "some gesture-based games, a pinball game, and TotemBall." For WSOP and RS: Vegas, the camera will model users' whole heads, with both portrait and profile shots being used to help add depth to the mapped image.
Messages will also include photos taken with the camera. When the camera is released later this year, gamers will be able to message each other with text, voice, photos, or all three.
To listen to the entire interview, head over to Major Nelson's Web site.