This is some pretty mental technology right here!
(pronounced "nuh-tall"[needs IPA]) is the code name for a "controller-free gaming and entertainment experience" by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game platform. Based on an add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, Project Natal enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 without the need to touch a controller, such as through body gestures or spoken commands.
The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360's audience beyond its hardcore base of young males. Project Natal was first announced on June 1 at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Release pricing and timing have not been announced, but the device is not expected to be available until at least 2010.
An approximately nine-inch wide horizontal bar connected to a circular base with a ball joint pivot, the Project Natal sensor is designed to be positioned lengthwise above or below the video display. The sensor features a "RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone, and custom processor running proprietary software," which provide full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition capabilities.
The "Project Natal" sensor's microphone array enables the Xbox 360 to conduct multi-directional voice location tracking and ambient noise suppression, allowing for things such as headset-free party chat over Xbox Live. The depth sensor consists of an infrared projector combined with a monochrome CMOS sensor, and allows the Project Natal sensor to see in 3D under any lighting conditions.