Remember Project Natal, the camera system for the Xbox 360 that allowed gamers to control their console via voice and gesture recognition, without the need for any kind of hand-held controller? One of the more interesting features of the system was using it to control the Xbox Dashboard – swiping your hand in the air to page through content, using a voice command to shut the system off, and things of that nature. It seemed like it could be useful well beyond gaming consoles.
Bill Gates agrees. In an interview with CNET the Microsoft Chairman mentioned using Natal technology (which he refers to as " this (depth) camera thing") in Windows, both at home and at the office. Gates said Natal wasn't just for games, "but for media consumption as a whole, and even if they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication."
Getting Natal onto Windows is a good first step, but Microsoft should be driving towards getting it into home theater systems. Imagine a universal remote system entirely controlled by hand gestures. No more rummaging for the remote, or trying to see the buttons in the dark (Natal has an infrared camera so in theory should work in low-light conditions).
Gates mentions a time frame, too: "in a little over a year." So should we look for Project Natal launching Holiday 2010? Maybe so!
Natal was just a small portion of the interview, and Gates had a lot of interesting things to say. Check out the full interview at CNET.
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