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Microsoft's Natal gaming concept wows E3

E3 logoThe E3 games industry event in Los Angeles always throws up some interesting ideas, but it's pretty unusual for Microsoft to be behind one of the most interesting.

In fact, it's interesting enough that film director Steven Spielberg told the BBC that he thinks it will change the shape of gaming.

Project Natal takes the idea of immersive gaming and moves it on a step - far enough, in fact, for your TV screen to be able to see you and distinguish you from other malingerers who routinely take up residence on the sofa.

The Xbox maker has come up with a new gaming concept in which you gesticulate as hard as can be. Unlike the Nintendo Wii with its white controller stick that needs to be secured with a wrist-strap lest you inadvertently fling it at the screen, Microsoft's take on interactive gaming has nothing to throw. It uses motion sensors to recognise your movements and a facial recognition feature to identify who's in front of the screen.

Fashionistas are able to swap clothing ideas and suggest wardrobe items, complete with the ability to virtually see what the recommended outfit looks like when worn. Extreme sports fans can hurtle down the slopes on their customised snowboards - the Natal image sensor scans in the graphics on the underside of the board and imposes them on the onscreen version.

Project Natal looks pretty interesting - and not just because Microsoft has lined up some gung-ho guinea pigs for its demonstration video who aren't afraid of throwing some OTT shapes. We're not sure how they're going to emulate feedback when you're involving in a tense shoot-out or charging across bumpy terrain in a buggy, but Project Natal is one of the most fun ideas we've seen from Microsoft in a while.

You can see what it's all about at the XBox Project Natal microsite

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