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Details On Natal's Motion Capture Technology

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the do-a-little-dance dept.

Input Devices 121

An anonymous reader writes "Following yesterday's announcement of a late 2010 launch date for Natal, more details are emerging on exactly how Natal works. Alex Kipman, the project's lead developer, explains that Natal uses only 10-15% of the Xbox's resources to calibrate to a new player inside 160 milliseconds, track one or two players simultaneously, and use rudimentary knowledge of body anatomy to estimate where hands or other body parts are even when they can't be seen by Natal — for instance when they are held behind the back."

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121 comments

CmdrTaco has a tiny penis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685170)

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda has a tiny penis (it's barely 2 inches). This is why his wife had to go around fucking black guys to get pregnant cause Malda's tiny dick could barely squirt out a drop of semen.

BTW I farted!! LOL!!!1

Re:CmdrTaco has a tiny penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685738)

Let's say you want to revamp healthcare. What's the best way to do it? Well, if it was me, I'd look to the 50 states, each a laboratory of democracy. Some of them have already taken the initiative of revamping healthcare in one way or another -- off the top of my head: Massachusettes, Vermont, Oregon, and Hawaii. Why not encourage states to implement competing ideas -- single payor, tort reform, expanded medicare, free abortions, whatever -- then check back on the results in a few years. Sort of a scientific approach.

But I'm sure backroom bribing by a bunch of people who exempted themselves from the clusterfuck they slapped together would produce a much better result.

How obfuscated protocol? (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685202)

The aspect of how Natal communicates with X360 is most interesting to me, and surely many others.

It seems like it could be mighty fun peripheral for robotics projects... (and who knows, perhaps MS could even promote it, seeing that they have their robotics suite? Certainly small number of Natals not used for gaming wouldn't harm MS financially in any significant way; but they might like good publicity)

Re:How obfuscated protocol? (3, Interesting)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685554)

I believe there was talk of the hardware working on the PC, too, though the hardware is pretty much just a few cameras and other sensors, leaving it up to the libraries on the Xbox or PC to do the processing. Now, if Microsoft releases an SDK (which is in their best interest, if they want PC integration) then it shouldn't be an issue.

Re:How obfuscated protocol? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686264)

It's not exactly "pretty much just a few cameras and other sensors". Yes, there is RGB cam and microphone array, which will be often useful in their own way.

But most importantly, there's this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-of-flight_camera [wikipedia.org]
And cheaply. Which might be huge for amateur robotics projects.

SDK for Windows might be the best we can hope for indeed, if wanting something usable. Not exactly optimal, you're basically forced to use some Windows netbook (instead of some ARM board) if your creation is supposed to be roving. Still great.

Re:How obfuscated protocol? (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687484)

You could still use an ARM on the machine itself, I think the first reply covers that nicely even though they are referring to a different architecture.

Link: [microsoft.com]

"What you have to do is write a program that runs on the AVR (using for instance WinAVR) and this program talks to Robotics Studio running on a PC."

Re:How obfuscated protocol? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687734)

That's not really applicable to Project Natal usage, don't you think? Using MS Robotics Studio to control something is a different thing than using fabulous (for the price) sensors of Natal by putting it on a robot of some sort. And wondering now how easy/hard it will be to access those sensors, what will be required.

awesome (1, Flamebait)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685242)

I think Natal is amazing -- and you won't need to replace the batteries in your controller all the time. It's nice to see Microsoft do something besides suck for a change.

Re:awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685334)

Microsoft had next to nothing to do with the hardware development of what we now know as Natal, it was created by 3DV Systems. Microsoft simply acquired the tech from them and rebranded it. SSDD

Re:awesome (0)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685490)

Name one motion capture based game that didn't suck?

If you search Nintendo Wii bad controls on Google you'll see what I mean - and its one of the better implementations of this technology. I doubt the next Nintendo console will have such a strong emphases on this.

Every single other motion control gimmick that has come out for any console (and each was heralded as the end of standard controllers) has failed in a big way.

Re:awesome (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686124)

There are a lot of Wii motion-based games that work well. The (numerous) ones that DO suck, would probably have been just AS terrible with a controller, because they were cheap cash-in titles.

I agree that motion sensing won't kill controllers; but it will become an essential feature. Would you like to go back to using your computer with no mouse?

Re:awesome (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687048)

The funny part about that is.... nothing to do with the control scheme.

All the systems have some crappy shovel ware on them (The Wii simply has more because of its larger user base) The PS2 had more shovel ware then the GC and Xbox the PS1 had more then the N64 and the Dreamcast and no on and so forth.

When your the largest target you get a lot of shit thrown at you :(

I really feel the Wii missed out on some great games that should have been made with its control scheme in mind, Sooooo many of the Lucas Arts Adventure games could have been given a face lift and re released into massive sales most people who own a Wii probably have never heard of Day of The Tentacle or The Dig.

Point and click adventures really attract the casual gamer since they do not need to have lightning fast reflexes and may not enjoy shooting or killing everything in sight (me on the other hand I enjoy both so I guess I am mediocre core lol)

I love the Wii for the few games it gets right but I also feel they could have done so much more with it.

This Natal thing really does not seem all that impressive from the leaked footage, I am sure its an early beta but it still looked very lagy and sloppy even worse then Wiimote. Sony's version may be better but it too will probably suffer the same fate.

In the history of consoles very few add ons have ever had decent support. People won't buy it unless there are a ton of great games that require it and that wont happen until a ton of people buy it and the games sell a ton. Chicken and the egg problem.

Best of luck to MS but I feel Natal will be a commercial failure, I could be wrong but the odds are against it.

Re:awesome (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687508)

All the systems have some crappy shovel ware on them (The Wii simply has more because of its larger user base) The PS2 had more shovel ware then the GC and Xbox the PS1 had more then the N64 and the Dreamcast and no on and so forth.

Not JUST the larger user base, but the massively cheaper development. Last gen, the PS2 had far more marketshare, but wasn't particularly less expensive to develop a game for than the Gamecube or XBox. This gen, the consoles in 2nd and 3rd place also cost several times as much to make a game for. It's like a perfect storm that attracts really crappy games to the Wii. (And I love the Wii, but you have to ignore a LOT of bad games to get to the good ones.)

Point and click adventures really attract the casual gamer since they do not need to have lightning fast reflexes and may not enjoy shooting or killing everything in sight (me on the other hand I enjoy both so I guess I am mediocre core lol)

The genre I really feel the Wii is missing out on is real time sims... something like Starcraft or Command and Conquer. Those are all about control, and the Wii could do them far better than the PS2 or 360. Nobody's making one, though.

In the history of consoles very few add ons have ever had decent support. People won't buy it unless there are a ton of great games that require it and that wont happen until a ton of people buy it and the games sell a ton. Chicken and the egg problem. Best of luck to MS but I feel Natal will be a commercial failure, I could be wrong but the odds are against it.

I get the impression that Natal will be offered both as an add-on, but also built-in to a new model of 360. That might help adaption. However, I don't think it will nearly as impactful as the Wiimote was. The Wiimote+nunchuck was at least useful for general purpose gaming; it's an ok controller even if no motion sensing is used at all. Natal, though, seems like it will be wonderful for a very limited range of applications, and useless for most others. You need at least a few buttons to trigger actions.

Re:awesome (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685510)

From what i have seen of Natal, it is as sloppy as the Wiimote in terms of accuracy.

I love the idea of it recognizing you and logging you in by facial features etc... (not sure that made it into the final product) but... anyways it looks really inaccurate as a controller.

OBPennyArcade (5, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685798)

I think Natal is amazing

I dunno.. I'm kinda scared of this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/6/5/ [penny-arcade.com]

Re:OBPennyArcade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686312)

lol, that comic strip = win

Re:OBPennyArcade (1)

Trecares (416205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686474)

Yeah, especially if you consider the following quote from the summary, "and use rudimentary knowledge of body anatomy to estimate where hands or other body parts are even when they can't be seen by Natal"

It just might come true after all...

Trecares

Re:awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30687530)

for the love of god, how is this flame bait?

Re:awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30687978)

I think Natal is amazing -- and you won't need to replace the batteries in your controller all the time. It's nice to see Microsoft do something besides suck for a change.

Microsoft sucking innovation? See Softkinetic's products with similar capability. They had a presentational googletechtalk video a while ago, which has been taken down unfortunately.

I just want to try it (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685254)

I am just so unsure about it. It has alot of potential, but it could be a huge bomb. I think Latency in commands is going to be a big issue. But maybe its not as laggy as the initial demos seem.

If I could only somehow get into E3 without being someone really important or selling my body.

Re:I just want to try it (2, Interesting)

flitty (981864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685374)

The article states the latency for the camera to recognize a new position is 10 miliseconds, which IIRC is close to what wireless controller lag is. The better complaint is that it is only accurate to about 1.5", which is fine for large gesture based gaming, but minor refined movements won't be picked up.

What I want to see is room lighting requirements. (5, Interesting)

gmezero (4448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685642)

Given how every other video game system camera fails to work correctly in typical home lighting environments, this is the thing I'm most curious about.

For instance in my home, when we want to use the Eye Toy to play something like Kinetic, we have to drag out a shop-light and a couple of reflectors to stage the room and assist the contrast detection. Otherwise, the accuracy is garbage. If this thing can't work in a dark room then this also pretty much kills playing games in a room with the lights out (which is how I generally play racing games and FPS games at night).

My expectations are less than low and I'm just waiting to hear about how ever single player to use the system will need to have a Live account (with your avatar adjusted to R/L body mass).

Re:What I want to see is room lighting requirement (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686674)

I kinda doubt that playing FPS games with Natal will be very efficient even if you were to do it in a well lit room. Natal is for detecting movements of your hands (and other big body parts), not your thumbs.

Re:What I want to see is room lighting requirement (1)

Carbaholic (1327737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687430)

I haven't seen any hard hitting racing games or FPS for the wii, but it seems to be doing very well.

I bet this will do very well with that same group of casual gamers. Most of them probably play games in social groups with the lights on :)

Re:What I want to see is room lighting requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30687936)

Well, as to accuracy in the dark, this shouldn't be a problem, as the system mainly uses an infrared light/camera to track your motion/position. It doesn't need an external light source. I'm just curious how it's going to cope with background noise (tv remotes).

Re:I just want to try it (0, Troll)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687142)

It's going to be shit. Real time optical tracking is so far off. This whole natal campaign sticks of bull. Seriously, optical tracking didn't even work properly on AVATAR ! They ended up having to manually animate the faces....

Re:I just want to try it (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687554)

It's going to be shit. Real time optical tracking is so far off. This whole natal campaign sticks of bull. Seriously, optical tracking didn't even work properly on AVATAR ! They ended up having to manually animate the faces....i>

Just so we are clear, you are comparing capturing the facial expressions of actors using optical tracking to capturing body motion and gestures using a combination of optical and distance tracking?

I think you lost a few orders of magnitude in your comparison.

Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685260)

Accuracy aberrations plague a lot the new free motion input devices. Does anyone know to what degree of accuracy this works? Down to the inch? Centimeter?

My friend was lamenting how in Rainbow Six he could hug up to a corner or object and only expose a small part of his body when he poked out to shoot. The problem being that in Modern Warfare 2, this is not the case. You have to expose your whole body. He was hoping/speculating that with Natal, a first person shooter might be able to lock into a stationary mode (much like when one is shooting through a scope) and be able to move his head, shoulders, arms, etc as he pleases to peak (and/or) shoot around a corner when he's pinned down. He wants these games to get as close to real life as possible and I told him that it's a great idea and would increase the reality of pray and spray suppressive fire tactics ... but I was skeptical of the devices ability for this accuracy. So, anyone know any concrete numbers yet?

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (3, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685292)

So, anyone know any concrete numbers yet?

I don't have any concrete numbers, but I did just pick up this foam number one a few days ago...

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (3, Informative)

flitty (981864) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685408)

The article says that 31 limbs are tracked to within a 4 cm box. So move your hand 1.5". It's that accurate (which isn't great).

Play with the spider woman (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685486)

The article says that 31 limbs are tracked

So even many-limbed deities like Vishnu and various spider gods can play? That's so thoughtful of Microsoft to include the divine.

Multiple people (4, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685676)

31 limbs isn't out of the question if it's something like a multiplayer party game. That could be, for example, seven people, three of whom are men.

Re:Multiple people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685850)

Thats not a bad ratio, though could be improved upon.

May I suggest, 6 women, 1 woman with amputated legs, and a man? You know, that old OPPF rule.

Re:Play with the spider woman (2, Informative)

shar303 (944843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686344)

Vishnu didn't actually have more than the usual complement of 4 limbs; it's just Indian depictions of their deities and gods often use more than one pair of arms to symbolise different aspects of their being.

On the subject of Natal, I'm very skeptical of anything that has Peter Molyneux involved - even before the Milo videos turned out to be fraudulent i was very suspicious.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685958)

1.5" accuracy? Seems like that isn't too bad. Move your hand 1.5" ... that's a pretty small movement.

I guess you're not one of the cool kids (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685420)

Gee, I thought everyone here knew the accuracy specs of the unfinished and unreleased Natal. You mean *you* don't? [Nelson voice] HA HA!

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685436)

Obviously someone didn't RTFA.

From TFA:

The system locates body parts to within a 4-centimetre cube, says Kipman. That's far less precise than lab-based systems or the millimetre precision of Hollywood motion capture. But Douglas Lanman, who works on markerless 3D interaction at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and is not involved with Natal, says that this will likely be accurate enough for gamers.

Also:

Natal also includes software that has a basic understanding of human anatomy. Using its knowledge that, for example, hands are connected to arms, which are attached to shoulders, it can refine its guesses about body pose to recognise where body parts are even when they are hidden from Natal's camera.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685516)

He wants these games to get as close to real life as possible

Maybe he'd be happier just playing paintball and/or AirSoft?

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685686)

No joke.

He wants war games to get as close to real life as possible without any actual work, exertion, exercise, social interaction, or dirt.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (2, Funny)

MagicM (85041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685728)

Fixed that for you.

He wants war games to get as close to real life as possible without any actual work, exertion, exercise, social interaction, or dirt.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686304)

Maybe you should not expose these small parts of your body if you are concerned that they are less than a centimeter.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686694)

4 cm accuracy.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686932)

If your friend wants that level of realism then he shouldn't be playing COD. I'd suggest he tries the excellent ArmA games, for all their faults they're the best infantry simulators out there.

Re:Anyone Know How Accurate Natal Is? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687364)

For games that require moving around the map like that, the bigger question is how you will walk around at all (much less positioning yourself precisely to take cover). You can't actually move away from the camera, nor can you physically interact with the 3d terrain. Researchers for training simulations have been working on it for years, and come up with many contraptions from treadmills to giant hampster balls, none of which are ideal, much less feasible in a livingroom. Who wants to place bets on what the convention for walking/running/turning will be? I think tilting your head might be best.

Natal Demo (4, Informative)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685322)

Here [youtube.com] is a tech demo showing a Peter Molyneux demonstration of a game using Natal.

The ramifications of a system like this are pretty important I think. Honestly, this is what I had hoped the Wii would become... Not to start a Wii controller vs. Natal debate or anything, but I feel like games using full body motion capture would be much more interesting to me. At the end of the day, when I tried to play Wii tennis using proper motions and what not, I felt like an idiot after looking over and seeing someone else accomplish the same thing by flicking their wrist.

That said, I am interested to see how finely grained the sensitivity will be tuned to Natal recognizing people and motions. IE: if person A is playing a single player game and person B walks up and makes a hand motion, will Natal disregard that motion, or will it do whatever person B did? If so, it could seriously dent the efficacy of games being played by one person... Part of the benefit of having a physical controller is that someone else has to take it from you when they want to play, haha!

Debate? I gots yer debate! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685390)

Not to start a Wii controller vs. Natal debate or anything

Yeah, but in a street fight, the Wii owners at least have weapons (they don't call it a nunchuck for nothing). The Natal gang will have to rely on their fists.

Re:Debate? I gots yer debate! (3, Insightful)

phigmeta (1714352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685612)

Considering the Wii gang is bunch of 7 year olds, girls who don't want to break their nails, and some gay guys who just finished a sweaty game of wii cheer 2..... I think we will be fine.

Re:Debate? I gots yer debate! (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685688)

Maybe, but imagine how cool it will be playing a DBZ based game and doing the Kamehame wave attack! Maybe if I get some really strong hair gell and spike my hair I'll automatically become a super saiyan! :-)

Re:Debate? I gots yer debate! (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685762)

Maybe if I get some really strong hair gell and spike my hair I'll automatically become a super saiyan! :-)

The game won't even start up until Natal recognizes spiky yellow hair.

My problem with the Wi (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685790)

was that I felt like it encouraged "cheating"

You didn't have to do it right, you just had to what the controller thought was right.

Now waldos without physical connection would be great.

Re:My problem with the Wi (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685900)

See, that's exactly what bothered me about the Wii. Everyone was so excited about a game controller where you get to mimic real movement... that is until everyone figured out how you could really play... [penny-arcade.com]

Re:My problem with the Wi (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686172)

Reminds me of my overweight friend who used to play Track & Field for the NES by laying on the floor and slapping at the Powerpad [wikipedia.org].

Re:My problem with the Wi (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686834)

My uncle did the same exact thing. and he's rather thin as a rail. We all considered this cheating, he didnt think anything of it.

Re:Natal Demo (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685832)

I'm sorry, Molyneux is the LAST person I'd trust to give a balanced review of anything.

Especially Natal. [blorge.com]

You could also see for yourself [google.com]

You know what would be cool about that demo? (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685890)

If it would let you shove Milo off the bridge. (Guess that's a feature in the sequel to Bully.)

Re:Natal Demo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686400)

The Milo demo is not real. Milo seems to look at the girl. If really looked at the girl, he would look at the camera as well, because the TV shows a 2D projection.

Just sayin'.

Re:Natal Demo (2, Insightful)

shar303 (944843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686654)

I call shenanigans on this demo. once the footage of milo actually starts, you may notice that the avatar is looking out from the screen directly towards the girl at points.

Granted, she is rather easy on the eyes, but this tends to suggest the thing has been staged. Either that or the tv used has a 3d capability more advanced than anything in existence.

Re:Natal Demo (4, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687030)

Here is a tech demo showing a Peter Molyneux demonstration of a game using Natal.

Tech demo? More like total fabrication. Microsoft are merely insinuating they have perfected natural language processing, natural speech synthesis, perfect motion recognition and facial recognition amongst other things.

I'm sure Milo will turn up at some point but it will be a pale imitation of this. We'll realise that you can grunt and howl at Milo and get the same reactions.

Easter egg (-1, Troll)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685326)

If you do a monkey dance or throw a chair, Natal will hork up a video of Steve "Sweaty" Ballmer saying that Microsoft loves you.

Sounds pretty cool (4, Interesting)

Reapman (740286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685344)

Natal sounds cool, and might just be what i'm looking for for a reason to buy a 360 to compliment my PS3. I'm still concerned about the complete lack of buttons, and am wondering if MS is going to be releasing a controller you can strap to your arm or hold with 1 hand for when you need a button to say change weapons. Also the lag issue remains to be seen. This is one possible advantage Sony's motion MIGHT have.

But in the end it's all about the games. Both techs have the potential I think to be fun, just need to see the actual implementation. And I wonder what Nintendo has in their R&D to combat this (other then that Vitality Sensor) All very interesting, although I don't see this gameplay replacing old fashioned "sitting down with a controller in your hand" gaming, just another form of entertainment.

All of this talk makes me pretty excited for what comes after this current gen...

Sony also has better accuracy (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685674)

Sony's motion tracking technology [venturebeat.com] also reportedly has sub-millimeter accuracy, which could be better for games (along with the fact that controllers could have real buttons which would give you finer action control while moving).

I'm still dubious if either system really ends up being better for games than the Wii though. It's fun to flail around for a while, but the Wii is nice in that for really long gaming sessions you don't have to exhaust yourself with full-body motion.

Re:Sony also has better accuracy (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685962)

I agree with you here. Sony's decision to include controllers that feed more location data was a great idea. The tech doesn't seem to be far along enough to do it all via optical sensors quite yet, as evidenced by the accuracy of Sony's offering compared to Natal.

Does anyone know if that 4 cm accuracy box for Natal is their TARGET, or where the tech is currently sitting?

Re:Sony also has better accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686902)

Sony's tech is going to have far less technical challenges, and will end up the far better product.

Re:Sounds pretty cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686522)

Natal sounds cool, and might just be what i'm looking for for a reason to buy a 360 to compliment my PS3
 
Sony has had the EyeToy forever, did you care about that? If not, you should probably wait and see what Natal will actually deliver...

Re:Sounds pretty cool (2, Interesting)

Dalambertian (963810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687394)

Despite what they keep showing in the press releases, I don't think the gesture control is what the big titles will be using it for. Remember Johnny Lee's wiimote hack at TED? http://blog.ted.com/2008/04/wii_remote_hack.php [ted.com] According to his blog, he's been working on Natal and seems very impressed with the specs. http://procrastineering.blogspot.com/2009/06/project-natal.html [blogspot.com] Anyway, I'm guessing it's new camera controls like his that would really sell this thing for the "serious gamers" and not necessarily the motion sensing.

Accuracy (2, Insightful)

chelberg (1712998) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685456)

In my mind what will affect user experience the most is its accuracy, and latency. It uses a infrared camera, so I'm wondering if anyone knows the camera's specs, especially regarding resolution and latency. Without knowing these, it is difficult to evaluate what it is good for. The article quotes a several cm. accuracy, and 10 ms recognition time, but it not clear what the sensor's limits are, and how much latency there is in the processing.

Re:Accuracy (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686258)

Eye tracking typically uses infrared light to detect the subject's gaze, and eye trackers usually run at 60 hz. Some run even faster.

Re:Accuracy (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686348)

For a pure awesome use of eye tracking see Macross Plus (or Zero maybe). Target selection just by looking at it.

Re:Accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30687726)

macross plus... cybord pilot vs human pilot

What we have here... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685520)

...is an interesting new way to communicate. I could think of MANY applications for this tech, especially once we get out of the "early" days and into the "refined" zone. Training for surgery, advanced sports virtualization, motion-capture for the amateur crowd, eye line tracking for race car/drag car drivers (for training and teaching purposes)...hell, even the lock on your front door (gang signs incoming!)

It is, of course, possible that Natal will be a flop...but this tech could have far ranging implications outside the gaming space. Time will tell, I suppose...

Re:What we have here... (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685620)

Yes, I want the surgeon trained on Natal to work on my heart valves:
The system locates body parts to within a 4-centimetre cube
The brain? Meh, it might not matter so much.

Re:What we have here... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685680)

Note in my original post that I said the tech is still in the baby steps phase. How about once the system reaches accuracy to within half a millimeter? A thousandth of a millimeter? Less?

It obviously wouldn't be the only tool a training surgeon would use, but it would be a part of their toolbox.

Re:What we have here... (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687294)

Surgeons don't usually operate with open hands (psychic "surgeons" aside).

Natal could potentially track a bright orange scalpel with sub-millimeter accuracy, much like Sony's Eyetoy/wand system works (or they could use a PS3 instead).

Re:What we have here... (1)

Dalambertian (963810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687522)

Yes, I want the surgeon trained on Natal to work on my heart valves: The system locates body parts to within a 4-centimetre cube The brain? Meh, it might not matter so much.

To be fair, the interface looks a lot easier than the "state-of-the art" in virtual surgery. Just watch this promo video and tell me whether you'd be willing to go under the knife with this interface: http://www.simendo.eu/ [simendo.eu]

How do you pull the trigger? (1)

axjms (167179) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685638)

I like the idea of your on screen char mimic your own movements. But there are hundreds of interactions that involve a specific command beyond run, jump, punch, etc. I must be missing something but how are those commands execured with Natal.

Re:How do you pull the trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30685768)

Supplementary controller? I think that Natal is doomed as a flashy but useless gimmick, far more so than the Wiimote, but if it's going to be made useful for more than the gimmicky games, you have to enable precise input somehow.

Re:How do you pull the trigger? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685866)

Honestly, I think Microsoft is releasing Natal as a proof-of-concept for the technology so that they can improve it and sell it to other sectors (low-cost motion capture, sports training enhancement, supplementary surgical training, etc.)

Re:How do you pull the trigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686556)

But Microsoft is nowhere near any of those fields, are they? I don't doubt that there are potential applications for such motion recognition technology outside gaming, but Microsoft isn't really in a position to cash in on any of that. They just don't sell specialized software.

Re:How do you pull the trigger? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685786)

I could be completely off base here, but... ..holding your arms/hands and standing in a way that resembles how you hold a rifle is a possibility...although that approaches the "why bother" category with immeasurable speed...

You hold a regular controller (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686906)

Key point is, Natal will not replace the current controller, not for most existing game genres like shooters. We'll still play tradititional games with traditional controllers. For those games, Natal might be used for supplementry "leaning" while holding a controller, face recognition, voice control etc, though I hope devs don't overdo this (ref: Lair).

Sony's wands are targeted very differently to Natal; they're much more like an accurate Wiimote, and are more suited to existing Wii-type games. While similar wand controllers could be used with Natal (it's a superset of Eyetoy), I don't think its strengths lie with the games we've already seen.

I'm more interested in what new genres devs come up with, game styles that come more naturally from what the controller allows, like how the Wii enabled, but to a greater extent. That, and the non-game aspects like facial login, object recognition, gesture navigation and voice control of system/game menus and functions (the Milo demo is a good example of where these abilities could go).

Hands (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30685968)

estimate where hands or other body parts are even when they can't be seen by Natal -- for instance when they are held behind the back

Yes-- behind the back. Let's go with that.

Amputees (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686552)

What is someone was missing from an elbow down? Would the system see that as someone with it pointing directly at the device?

Re:Amputees (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30688210)

What is someone was missing from an elbow down? Would the system see that as someone with it pointing directly at the device?

No, it would correctly detect it, but would make snickering noises, and automatically name that player's avatars "Lefty", and so forth.

You heard it here first: Natal is a jerk.

Natal rhymes with Fatal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30686810)

I like to spread FUD

Las Vegas is in Arizona? I wish! (1)

idioto (259918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30686894)

Microsoft's president of entertainment and devices, announced at the CES show in Las Vegas, Arizona, this week that Natal would go on sale in November.

natal latches on quickly (1)

prattle (898688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687032)

It needs only 160 milliseconds to latch on to the body shape of a new user stepping in front of it.

I think I dated Natal once.

Natal too expensive? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30687198)

http://www.edge-online.com/news/rumour-microsoft-drops-internal-natal-chip [edge-online.com]

"The full Natal hardware/sensor combo always looked like an expensive proposition in a market where Microsoft really needs to turn a profit," said tech website Digital Foundry. "The notion of offloading the processing to the 360 CPU in the name of lower costs and easier upgradability makes sense.”

If this is true and they start cutting corners is it even going to work as good as in the demos? Sounds like it'll be pricey so they're gonna have to get it right upon launch.

10-15% to CALIBRATE? No... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30687318)

"10-15% of the Xbox's resources to calibrate..." WRONG! It uses 10-15% ALL THE TIME!

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