Project Natal: Microsoft’s new motion controller explained

“The only experience you need is life experience.”

In the biggest surprise of E3 so far, Microsoft announced a brand new gaming experience at the tail end of its press conference: something called Project Natal. This new controller-free device is part of the Xbox 360 and tracks a person’s full-body motion in real-time.

UPDATE 1: Check out celebrities playing Project Natal

UPDATE 2: Check out Peter Molyneux’s “Milo” interactive character demonstration:

UPDATE 3: Here’s the video from the E3 press conference:

Basically, a person stands in front of their Xbox 360 and Project Natal will scan your face or other objects, recognize your voice, and, literally, mimic the movements of your body as you just stand in front of the console. At the press conference the demo looked pretty staggering. The fact that all of this is done with no controller in the hand or no crazy peripheral on the floor is pretty impressive.

A few tech demos were shown, including Ricochet, in which the player takes the role of the paddle in a 3D Breakout clone, and Paint Party, where the demonstrator starting painting things on screen using nothing but his arm movements and gestures.

All in all, the reveal was shocking and actually pretty amazing. I don’t want to jump on the OMGTHISISGOINGTOCHANGEEVERYTHING bandwagon just yet, but this is genuinely the first thing that could give the Wii a run for its money in the casual department (and beyond!).

Check out our liveblog of the Microsoft press conference for more details on this truly surprising news.

Chad Concelmo