Microsoft said on Monday that Kinect (Project Natal) will be available on November 4 in the U.S.
Dubbed Kinect for Xbox 360, the controller-free game device is set to go on sale in November. The technology behind Natal is fairly simple, a TV-mounted camera/microphone bar to sense motion, sound and movement. Whats new and ground breaking is the tracking of 3D movement as well as 2D movement. The system is also able to scan users faces and sign them into Xbox live, as well as react to vocal tone and pitch, and process this data in real-time.
Microsoft demonstrated their Kinect system by waving to sign into the console and controlling different console elements by saying "Xbox" followed by music or pause to pause live video. Zune for Xbox was also demonstrated with some Justin Bieber music where the user was able to play and pause the music. Video Kinect was also announced. The service lets users communicate via the sensor for video or audio chat. The Video Kinect service works across Xbox Live and Windows Live Messenger and allows users to watch movies together and chat.
Microsoft and ESPN announced a partnership to show ESPN live games across Xbox live with Kinect voice commands. The service will be free for Xbox LIVE gold members.
Microsoft also announced six new launch games exclusively for the Kinect system:
- Kinectimals - a virtual pet aimed at young children. Similar to Dogz, the virtual pet reacts to commands and movements from the user. Over forty animals will be available in the game.
- Kinect Sports - a multi-player track and field sports game. Games include soccer, bowling, javelin, Ping Pong, boxing and beach volleyball.
- Kinect Joy Ride - a kart racing game with stunts and tricks.
- Kinect Adventures - a multi-player action game, similar to being on a rollercoaster.
- Your shape fitness evolved - a fitness game with wide variety of exercise options including feedback based on your body.
- Dance Central - a dance game that includes real full body dancing. Music includes pop, R&B and rap music.
The groundbreaking technology was introduced by both Stephen Spielberg and gaming legend Peter Molyneux at E3 in 2009. Both believe the technology has the power to turn games into a true mass entertainment medium. Microsoft held a special event over the weekend to showcase the features of Kinect to Hollywood stars, VIPs and media from around the world. Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox LIVE, said 2010 could be the biggest year yet for Xbox. “It’s an amazing year just when you look at the things people are expecting,” he said. “But we’re excited to also be announcing ways that make it simpler for everyone to enjoy the things we do. People who are intimidated by a controller or game pad will finally get to unlock some of the experiences that are possible in the living room, gaming and non-gaming alike.”
Microsoft made the news with the grand unveiling of Kinect over a year ago. With over 40 million Xbox 360 consoles on the market, Kinect is expected to sell well across the world and entice non-gamers, young children, mothers and grandparents onto the Xbox 360 in the same way the Nintendo Wii did. Kinect is available for pre-order from today, Microsoft has not announced final pricing.
Update: Gamestop is currently accepting pre-orders for Kinect at the price of $149.99