Microsoft launches Project Natal as Xbox 360 Kinect

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Microsoft launches the Xbox 360 Kinect tomorrow.

We spoke about the prototype, codenamed ‘Natal’ on this blog this time last year – in particular how its users need only gestures and hand movements to control the console, rather than a physical controller.

Some critics are already condemning the console, saying it’ll never catch on, but we think they’re being cynical. The concept is great and not using a controller will appeal to those of us who never had the hand-eye coordination for first person driving games and liked the sporting (rather than gaming) environment of the Wii.

But going from a handheld controller to full body control is a bit like replacing a gas hob with a log fire. Serious gamers spend years perfecting the minutiae of finger movements on controllers. Without a controller, interactions on the screen could be slow, cumbersome and mistake-prone – frustrating, to say the least.

That, combined with Microsoft’s singular inadequacy to fully test and debug products before putting them on the market may doom this project. In many ways, it’s a shame that it’s Microsoft and not Nintendo.

If it’s going to be a success, Microsoft need to learn from Apple.

This is a lifestyle product, not just a games console with a gimmicky peripheral. Market it as something you need in your life, something that’s cool to own and above all, something that changes the way we interact with the world and with each other.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.