Microsoft made a big splash when it talked about bringing its gesture-control system, Project Natal, to the Xbox 360 in games coming next year. But Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has disclosed that the technology will also work with future versions of Microsoft Windows on the PC.
In an interview with CNET News, Gates said the 3-D depth-sensing cameras that are part of Natal will let people control all sorts of devices: PCs, game devices and televisions.
When Microsoft showed off Natal at the E3 show in June, it showed it could one-up the Nintendo Wii by capturing entire body movements and translating those into the controls for Xbox 360 games. If you wave your arms as if you’re swinging a sword, a character in the game will do the same.
But Natal also has other technologies, like the ability to recognize multiple players, faces and voices. It thus takes advantage of both visual and audio cues. With Windows 7 and future operating systems, Natal could be used to interact in virtual meetings or other forms of video communication, Gates said.
Gates said the project started in Microsoft research but is now being used by both Xbox and Windows divisions. Microsoft bought its 3-D depth-camera technology from 3DV Systems and it is also working with PrimeSense, as we’ve reported before.