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Microsoft Corp. on Sunday announced the official name for its motion sensor for Xbox 360 game console that was previously known as Project Natal. The product, which is projected to hit the market later this year, will be called Kinect.

The slim black Kinect sensor can be plugged directly into any Xbox 360 and features a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. Kinect has the abilty to recognize faces and voices. Kinect can perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second. Unfortunately, Microsoft unveiled neither the launch date nor the price of the Kinect. Microsoft will share more details – including the release date, and some of Kinect’s initial game and entertainment offerings – at a Monday morning news conference that will kick off E3, the gaming industry’s annual trade-show.

“With Kinect, game-players no longer need to memorize different commands for a hand-held control. You are the controller. You simply step in front of the sensor and Kinect sees you move, hears your voice and recognizes your face,” said Mike Delman, corporate vice president of global marketing for the interactive entertainment business at Microsoft.

Mr. Delman believes that Kinect will help Xbox get closer to reaching its goal of becoming the hub of games and entertainment in every living room. But while hard-core gamers are and will remain the cornerstone of Xbox and Xbox Live, Microsoft wants to use Kinect to reach a broader, new audience.

There are upwards of 40 million Xbox 360 consoles on the market. Kinect could help significantly increase that number because it appeals to traditional non-gamers such as young children, mothers, and grandparents.

Tags: Microsoft, Natal, Xbox, Kinect

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