For those who haven't caught on yet I am quite the fan of video games so this week (Electronics Entertainment Expo) is pretty much my personal holiday.
Yesterday Microsoft hosted kicked off the show (unofficially as it really starts today) with their 2009 Press Conference. It was mostly wonderful for the gamer in me but it was the teacher in me who walked away stunned!
Microsoft introduced a new idea they are currently calling Project Natal. In short it is a 3d motion tracking system that allows one to interact with their games in a very real way. This has been rumored to be the works for a few months now but nobody saw it coming to the level demonstrated yesterday.
Natal seems to consist of little more than a webcam, a microphone and some ridiculously advanced software. (Kevin Perreira on G4 noted on air my exact opinion: "I never thought the first incarnation of [The Terminator] would be so cute!") It claims to turn the human body into a controller with the tagline "The only experience you need is human experience."
My first thought as a teacher was this is finally technology that any kid, anywhere can use and understand. It requires no previous knowledge of computers, game controllers or anything of the sort. You want to interact with an object on screen? Good, do it. You want to flip the page in a virtual book? Good do it. It is a interactive whiteboard taken to the absolute next level.
This technology is brand new and honestly when you see the demo it feels like science fiction come to life. You can find the press conference on ign.com and on gametrailers.com and I highly recommend checking it out.