The 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known simply as E3, took place this past week. E3 2010 is the largest video game conference and press event in the US, and is the stage from which nearly all revolutionary new products and games are announced. So what was the major announcement this year that libraries and librarians should be aware of?
That would be the formal launch of Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, formerly known as Project Natal. The Xbox answer to the Nintendo Wii's motion-based control system, Microsoft has stepped it up a notch and has gotten rid of the controller entirely. Kinect is a small piece of hardware that connects to your Xbox 360, and is composed of a number of sensors: cameras, microphone, and more. Combined with software, Kinect is capable of recognizing individuals, over 40 points of articulation, and incredibly precise movement, allowing you to control your Xbox without a controller.
In addition to the expected sorts of games for a motion control system (swordfighting! dancing! sports!) Microsoft also demoed controlling the other services that the Xbox gives you via Kinect. Walk in front of it and wave, and it signs you onto Xbox Live. Manipulate music and video playback with a wave of your hand. Give your Xbox voice commands ("Xbox, play Iron Man"). It's the first consumer-level product that I've seen that approaches the sort of Minority Report style interface that people seem fascinated with.
For libraries, this is a hardware device, and not an inexpensive one at $149 (rumored retail). It probably isn't something that will be circulated, but would be a HUGE hit for gaming night at the library. If your library has such a program, start saving up for the November release now...this is guaranteed to be the hit of the holiday season.