Microsoft Reveals Hands-Free Gaming, Slimmer Xbox 360

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has recently released a new, slimmed down version of the Xbox 360. The new gaming console resembles the re-launched Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), coupled with motion control technology following in the footsteps of the Nintendo Wii.

The new edition of the Xbox 360 remains at the same $299 price, but doubles the hard drive capacity to 250 GB. The device is physically smaller than the original Xbox 360 and also adds built-in wireless (Wifi) network access.

Other changes are more mechanical: it's suggested that the main processor and the graphics hardware have been integrated on the same processing unit, which may be part of the reason the console is said to be quieter to use and less power-hungry. (Source:

The new device is to be known as the Xbox 360S, with the current Elite model being reduced in price to $249. In addition, new features will appear in revamped editions of other Xbox models such as the Arcade, which ships without a hard drive.

Xbox 360 Project Natal Becomes Kinect

Microsoft's other major announcement at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles was the formal unveiling of its motion control system, which has previously been known as Project Natal.

The system, which will be marketed as Kinect, is different from that of the Nintendo Wii and the in-development PlayStation 3 motion-sensitive system: it does not require any handheld controller. Instead it works with what's being billed as "full-body gaming".

This is achieved through three cameras, giving a 3D effect, which can capture and process a range of movements from dancing to more subtle hand gestures. There's also the capacity for voice recognition.

Hands-Free Games In Development

The system will require an additional piece of hardware which sits on a table at the bottom of the TV screen. There will be 15 games at launch, including sports events and a dancing game. It's hoped major game developers will incorporate the technology into their future releases, though this may be a chicken-and-egg situation with developers unwilling to put too much effort into such features until there are enough people using Kinect to make it financially worthwhile.

Sony to offer Motion-Sensing Wand for PS3

Sony's motion-sensing wand-based peripheral dubbed "Move" is said to debut in September. (Source: It retains a physical controller, but includes a spherical sensor which allows the console to track its movements. It appears this will offer a greater level of precision, which may appeal to hardcore gamers, but might not offer the unique gaming experience presented by Kinect. (Source:

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