Microsoft: Project Natal Can Support Multiple Players, See Fingers


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* I thought the system, as impressive as it was in letting me play kickball with virtual balls on a TV and no controllers on my body, might not be able to handle multi-player gaming.
* Wrong, the project's director, Kudo Tsunoda told me. He had me look at a special display set up as part of the ball-ricocheting demo. What I saw proved how clearly Natal was easily reading both my body and his as we both stood in front of the sensors. We appeared on screen as simplified, mutli-jointed stick figure skeletons within silhouettes of our bodies. It clearly saw us as separate people. There would be no problem, he said, for the system to support a game that let us play at the same time and track our movements separately.

* I thought Project Natal might be good for reading big body movements but not for finer finger movements.
* Theoretically, I got that wrong too, Tsunoda told me, though he didn't have a way to prove it to me there. The stick-figure skeletons that Natal recognize us as did not have fingers. Each one had a short stick for each hand. I saw no fingers, so I assumed it could not see my fingers. There seemed to be no way for Natal to know, say, how many fingers I was holding up. If it could, then it could maybe read hand signs issued to squadmates in military first-person shooters. I questioned Natal's ability to detect those finer movements. Tsunoda said that such detection was possible, though the sensitivity would be different at different distances. He thought my fingers idea was do-able.

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