Ever since it was released, Nintendo’s Wii and its handheld gesture controllers have dominated the buzz in gaming interfaces. Microsoft fired back at today’s E3 conference with Natal, a gesture and speech recognition system with no physical controller at all. Using cameras and directional microphones, Natal will let players control the Xbox with kicks, twists, finger-pointing, and spoken commands. The cameras will identify players and their motions, interpreting them for whatever game is being played. These virtual gesture input systems can be adapted for use by people with dexterity impairments to play games, or, with suitable programming, to perform other functions. You could turn it into a virtual keyboard to control a word processor, for example.
If Natal enters the market at the estimated price of $99, it could revolutionize the field of alternative input devices.