Microsoft has been previewing its “Project Natal” gaming system for some time, offering glimpses of the technology that relays human movements to control characters in a video game. Microsoft is readying Natal systems to bring to market this holiday season, but the company says that’s only the beginning of where the technology will take us.
Microsoft is betting the so-called “natural user interface” will be the next revolution in the computing industry, Hardware Central reports. Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie has big plans for how far the “NUI” will take computing.
There’s a new computing revolution coming and it’s not based on a keyboard and a mouse. Instead, it will be based on touch, gestures, spoken language, and even painting — what is becoming known as “natural user interface,” or NUI.
Perhaps nowhere is that more visible than in Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) “Project Natal,” an add-on device designed initially for the company’s Xbox 360 gaming console that does away with physical controllers and instead turns the player’s body into the controller through the use of 3D sensors and cameras. Gestures and movements determine how the game responds to the user, whether it is a racing game, tennis, or a shoot ’em up.
However, Microsoft see that as just the start. In the future, technologies like Natal, which is due for sale by the holidays, are likely to be anywhere and be used for many different tasks.
And that’s just the start of where Microsoft sees NUI heading. Consider what happens when the office or the living room become the computer, when walls and other vertical surfaces become multitouch sensitive like Microsoft’s Surface tabletop computer.
That’s one of the questions being asked daily by Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer. When Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates retired, Mundie inherited half of Gates’s duties, watching out for the long-term future of computing and how it will impact both the company and society at large.