I am sure by now everybody has seen the E3 demo of Microsoft’s Project Natal. After watching it several times and putting my jaws back together, I started asking myself: What good is Natal for non gamers (you know for those of us who considers gaming waste of time!)? Perhaps, not that good unless we build other applications that can be used in everyday life, not just games. So can we build applications like that?
Of course, we can, and we should. In fact, it already have at least one non gamer application, the movie player, but how about more applications? How about editing your favorite photos by just using your hand gestures in convenience of your living room. More importantly, think of turning Xbox to an Xstore. Seriously, how convenient and easy would it be to just come in front of your TV and shop clothes, books, etc?
Wouldn’t it be truly amazing if we can go in front of our TV’s and say “shop books” and it would know our taste (based on our previous buys) and will display a list of books. Then, with strokes of our bare hands we navigate though them and read excerpts, commentary and reviews. Finally, when we are ready just by dragging it to our shopping cart, and saying “pay”, it would be ours.
Think of turning your Xbox into Xchef with Natal. Of course, it wouldn’t cook for you, but how about learning how to cook from it. From your kitchen you can watch the Xchef and it would teach you step by step how to cook your favorite dish, and best of all, it can keep track of cooking times and determine the right amount of ingredients for you.
In addition to all of the examples above, there is a world of applications that can be built for educational purposes. Imagine Milo, the character introduced with Natal, teaching your kids how to speak a language, or helping your kids with math by interactive conversations, and visualizations. (Watch the video at the bottom for more info about Milo.)
So you can do photo editing, learn how to cook, learn languages, shop online. How about other programs you use with your PC, power point, word, excel… They can build a new interface for these programs too, but the way they are you may just need a keyboard to work with them on Natal. Granted Natal has voice recognition, but I would expect that is not going to work 100%, so attach a keyboard to it (a virtual one, like iphone) and you can then throw away your computer and do everything in Xbox.
I think I enumerated enough applications that non gamer can use with Natal. None of this can be achieved without a great SDK. So let’s hope that an SDK comes that developers can use to nourish their creativity.
Microsoft has built something exceptional that truly is transformative by nature, and in order to utilize it better I think it should not be restricted to games so our non gamer friends can use it too.
What do you think?
For those who haven’t actually seen Natal, here blow your mind: