E3 2009 – Microsoft Press Conference: Part 4 – The Motion Non Controller

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So finally, Microsoft has announced it’s new motion controller. Thing is, it’s not actually a motion controller, no, it is the exact opposite.

Microsoft have set out to release a motion control system that takes away the need for a controller completely, and from what we have seen, it is way, way ahead of it’s time.

Find out more about this crazy new innovation from Microsoft, after the jump.

What’s New-ton

When the rumours started, Microsoft’s motion controller was being called the “Newton” and images showed what looked like a controller very similar to the Wii-mote. Then news hit that Microsoft had bought out a company that was developing a special sort of camera that detects motion.

The new device is called Project Natal (as in Kwazulu-Natal, like… Nah-tahl) and is simply a small device that sits on top of or in front of your television.

This new device is absolutely mind blowing, assuming that it will work as well as it did when demoed. The device picks up full body motion, even for more than one person. It also detects depth as well.

A trailer came up, showing those people who were thought to only exist in Wii ads, playing games with the Natal. A woman is shown driving a race car, and even changing gears using nothing but her hands, as she say in a “pretend” driving stance. She pulled in for a pit stop, which then lead to one of her friends hopping up and doing all of the motions in thin air that would be required to loosen then nuts on a car wheel, and then take the wheel off and replace it with another.

All of the motions are done as if you were doing it in real life, with the Natal picking up the movements and translating them into the game.

This isn’t some sort of waggle system either. Videos were shown of people dribbling soccer balls between their feet and then kicking them at a goal, as well as a kid skateboarding. The Natal also scanned in the kid’s skateboard so that he could use the same graphics in the game.

Interested yet?

Tom Cruise, Eat Your Heart Out

One of the creators of the Project Natal also got onto the stage to demonstrate some of it’s new features.

Firstly, the Natal logged him into the dashboard through face recognition, then, he showed off his avatar, which was completely mimicking everything that he was doing on stage, in the dashboard, from turning around to lifting his feet.

The dashboard is being given the full Minority Report treatment, and is going to be completely controllable using nothing but hand gestures just like in the sci-fi movies. Voice recognition has also been added as well. It was all demoed live and seemed to work flawlessly.

a live demo was also done on stage, with a girl playing a reflex game, which had her kicking balls and reaching for them with her hands and every motion was perfectly being translated into the game, even if she stepped forwards or backwards. Another little application shows was one that allowed you to paint using the motion controls, which you will see in the videos later. It seemed more like something you will never really use, but was a good way to show off the motion controls, as well as impress us with the fact that all colours were chosen by the guy doing the demo using nothing but voice recognition.

Me And Milo are BFF’s

Wait until you hear about this next one, because it is both incredible, and creepy and really makes your wonder if what they have done is genuinely going to work.

By they, I mean Peter Molyneux from Lionhead. What they have done is create a character called Milo.

A video was shown to us where a woman started talking to this Milo character ( a young boy) who is standing in a grassy area next to a tree, in a small quaint little area with a small house an a pond.

The scary thing is that Milo can detect your emotions from the expression on your face. What’s even more scary is that the woman was speaking to Milo as if he was a person, and he was responding to her, whilst always looking her in the eyes.

At one point he tells her to put on some goggles, and tosses them at her, insisting that she put them on. They proceed to talk about school work whilst Milo is sitting by the pond. The woman leaned forwards, looking down into the pond, and was not only able to see her reflection in the water, but could then also make waves with her hand motions.

I would like to know how much of this Milo idea was prepared before hand or “set up”, because if it isn’t which I honestly have to doubt, it will be a massive step forward for gaming. Still, if you think of the idea of integrating this into a game like Fallout or Oblivion, you could essentially read your lines to the NPC’s and have them answer you whilst looking you in the eyes.

This motion controller really is very impressive, and is surely going to usher in some sort of new era in gaming, possibly even more so than the Wii. Either that or it will bomb, but from what I have seen, it’s looking incredibly accurate and amazingly approachable for casual gamers.

This technology really feels way ahead of it’s time, and we can only hope that it works as well as Microsoft have led us to believe today.

Done and done

That wraps it up for the Microsoft E3 2009 Press Conference, we hope you enjoyed reading up on all of the new exciting announcements. We will have the coverage from Sony’s Press Conference up on Wednesday morning, so be sure to drop by and see what they have in store for all of us.

Last Updated: June 2, 2009

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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