Project Natal for the Xbox 360

Now that we have reached the mid point of 2010, rumors surrounding some of the hottest video game consoles have begun to heat up. Recent reports indicate that Sony is forging ahead with development on their Playstation 4 (although nothing has been made official..perhaps an announcement can be expected during E3 this year?)  While not much has been heard from Nintendo’s camp, Microsoft made its intentions known at a recent convention where they introduced Project Natal.

Project Natal, a 3-D camera for the Xbox 360, is Microsoft’s answer to the Wii’s motion controller. It is reported that in addition to 3D tracking capabilities, Project Natal will also have a microphone with voice recognition capabilities as well.

Touted as Microsoft’s next big thing, Project Natal will be designed as a controller-free way of playing some of your favorite video games by tracking movement and voice then transferring that data directly to the Xbox 360 console. Even though Microsoft has revealed their latest project, there has been no official release date set. That being said, look for Project Natal to hit retailer shelves the latter part of 2010m as industry insiders indicate that would be the ideal time-before Sony can jump the gun.

The technology behind Project Natal is somewhat new to the market. Project Natal will utilize 3 main components. A R.G.B camera, a Monochrome CMOS sensor, and an infrared projector. The R.G.B camera will track basic colors and also enables Natal’s ability to recognize facial features. The CMOS sensor and infrared projector will work together in creating a 3D image of the room, allowing Natal to work in almost any light. Natal then utilizes an extra layer of procession that maps the player in real time, allowing Natal to continue working if a stray dog-or child- gets in between the camera and the player.

Not all of Xbox 360 games will be compatible with Natal, so gamers don’t need to worry that Natal could potentially ruin some of their favorite franchises. There will be select games that will be compatible with Natal and while no official set of titles has been confirmed by Microsoft, rumors are swirling about Fable 3 being a Natal game. But games such as CoD, Halo, Dante’s Inferno will not be natal compatible.

Microsoft is optimistic that Project Natal will extend the 360’s shelf life beyon the customary 5 to 7 years. Which means that Xbox360 fans will have to wait for an Xbox 720.