You’ve probably seen Microsoft’s new interface for the Xbox 360: Project Natal. If you haven’t, project Natal is a 3d stereo-optic RGB camera with a microphone. So it sees depth, color and can hear. Coupled with the Xbox 360 it allegedly allows you to do full body motion capture in real time as well as facial recognition and voice recognition. If you have no idea what I’m talking about watch the video(s) for the quickest look at what it does.
If you do know about Natal, consider this:
Milo is probably scripted and pretty fake though surely the technology is possible just not Milo’s AI. As a gaming interface Natal might be hard to use with the normal games of today, this does however not mean that it wont sell well or be fun to use. It certainly will. But with less gamish games probably.
There is a seed I’d like to place with all of you though. Think about the iPhone, what it really does well is that it forces applications and games to use a very easy to use interface that looks good. Microsoft are trying to do the same with Microsoft Surface technology but it is very expensive and hard to implement…
And along comes Natal. Not only does it implicitly force the use of an easy interface, your body is quite probably the best interface you’ll ever use, but it’s also available for existing technology. And it doesn’t have to be very expensive.
This might be the interface that really leads us to ubiquitous computing. Typing still needs a keyboard, even on an iPhone, but navigation and normal use could be done by Natal.
Let’s hope it works.