Scientific American Reveals Technology Behind Project Natal

0113_homepage In developing the Project Natal motion-tracking system, Microsoft researchers accumulated a vast amount of biometric data to help develop accurate movement technologies.

Scientific American magazine reveals how Microsoft studied the human body to train its latest motion-tracking gaming technology to work without the need for controllers in Binary Body Double: Microsoft Reveals the Science Behind Project Natal for Xbox 360.

Project Natal was the world’s first gaming device to combine an RGB camera, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software all in one device that tracks your full body movement in 3D while responding to commands and even picking up on changes in tone of voice.

Project Natal is a revolutionary new way to play: no controller required. See a ball? Kick it, hit it, trap it or catch it. If you know how to move your hands, shake your hips or speak you and your friends can jump into the fun -- the only experience needed is life experience.

The article explains, “Instead of trying to preprogram actions, Microsoft decided to teach its gaming technology to recognize gestures in real time just like a human does: by extrapolating from experience. Jamie Shotton, a researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge in England, devised a machine learning algorithm for that purpose. It also recognizes poses and renders them in the game space on-screen at 30 frames per second, a rate that conveys smooth movement. Essentially, Natal-enhanced Xboxes will do motion capture on the fly, without the need for the mirror-studded spandex suit of conventional motion-capture approaches.”

For more information, see Project Natal.


Bruce D. Kyle
ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation

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