Microsoft unveils Kinect motion controller

Microsoft is looking to expand the market for its video games with a new motion-controlling system, officially named Kinect, to be available in November.

Microsoft is looking to expand the market for its video games with a new motion-controlling system, officially named Kinect, to be available in the United States on Nov. 4 and worldwide for the holiday season.

The company did not announce pricing for the add-on to the Xbox 360, previously known as Project Natal, at its unveiling at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Monday. Industry analysts expect Kinect, which has facial and voice recognition technology, as well as motion-sensing capabilities, to sell for around $150 to $200.

Microsoft is touting the device as the next step in the evolution of gaming and entertainment. Kinect users will be able to control games and movies on their Xbox through hand motions and voice commands, and will be able to use video conferencing through their television sets.

"You are the controller," said Mike Delman, corporate vice-president of global marketing for the interactive entertainment business, in a statement. "You simply step in front of the sensor and Kinect sees you move, hears your voice and recognizes your face."

Kinect is Microsoft's answer to the success of Nintendo's Wii, which introduced motion control in 2006. The Wii expanded the video game market beyond the traditional core audience and became popular with families, and went on to become the best-selling console of the current generation. The Wii has sold more than 70 million units worldwide, compared to 40 million units of Microsoft's Xbox 360.

The system will have 15 games at launch, including Kinectimals, where pet animals can be controlled through voice and touch; Kinect Sports, which features hurdles, soccer, bowling, javelin, ping pong, volleyball; the Kinect Joy Ride cart racing game; Kinect Adventures, an action-adventure title that lets players surf on clouds and ride rubber rafts; and Your Shape, a fitness game. 

Microsoft introduced Project Natal at last year's E3 show.

Microsoft also showed off some of the big-name titles that will be released for the 2010 fall and holiday season, including Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, Fable 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Microsoft said it had signed a deal with developer Treyarch where all downloadable Call of Duty series add-ons, such as new map packs, will be available first for the Xbox 360. The company also announced a smaller and slimmer Xbox 360 console with a 250 gigabyte hard drive and a built-in wireless Wi-Fi N adapter for $299 U.S., which will go on sale this week.

E3 runs until June 17, with Sony and Nintendo scheduled to hold their media conferences on Tuesday.