E3 06: Microsoft announces new Xbox 360 accessories

Microsoft preps wireless racing wheel, wireless headset, and video camera for Xbox 360; wireless PC adapter also on the way.

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LOS ANGELES--Microsoft has new racing wheel, headset, and video camera accessories in the works for Xbox 360 racing fans that have a penchant for online chat, Xbox boss Peter Moore said today at the Microsoft press briefing.

The Xbox 360 Wireless Racing wheel extends the console's wireless controller tradition to steering wheels and offers force-feedback technology to let the road fight back and add realism to racing games such as the upcoming Forza Motorsport 2. Microsoft also announced the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset, a wireless headphone and microphone set that matches the styling of the Xbox 360 console.

Microsoft plans on releasing an Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver that will let both new wireless accessories work on Windows PCs, as well as current and future wireless accessories, including the wireless Xbox 360 controller.

GameSpot asked Microsoft representatives if the PC-receiver accessory will let the headset function as a voice over IP communication device with common VoIP applications such as Skype, but Microsoft would only confirm that the headset would be compatible with Windows. However, there's still hope for VoIP users, since representatives did not state that the headset would work only with Xbox Live.

The Xbox 360 video camera, which first appeared in prototype form at early Xbox 360 press events, will finally make its entrance later this year. The Xbox Live Vision camera will enable photo messaging and video chat for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Subscribers will also be able to use the camera to create personalized gamer pictures. The USB camera will have a built-in microphone and will also be PC Windows compatible.

Microsoft has not announced pricing and has only revealed the release date for the camera, which will ship in North America and Europe on September 19. All other accessories will be ready in time for the "holiday" season.

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