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MS casts Project Natal as uber-remote

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Microsoft's turn-Xbox-into-Wii scheme, Project Natal, won't stop at the games console, the company has revealed.

Xbox Live chief Marc Whitten has said the motion-detection tech will be used to steer consumers through their telly's menus too.

Bye-bye, Media Center Remote - hello, Project Natal.

It's a convergence play, of course. The TV will cease to be the portal for broadcast television but the gateway to online, over-the-air and directly connected services too. No surprise there - indeed, the TV already is just such a gateway and has been since the first consumer VCRs and games consoles arrived.

What hasn't yet converged, at least not in a mass-market way, is the universal remote. Yes, they exist, but they require basic programming to tell them what kit you have, and they need to present hundreds of buttons.

What's needed, surely is a more simple approach.

Enter Natal.

"With the flick of my wrist I can change a channel," Whitten told attendees at the Streaming Media West show last week. "With the power of my voice I can start a movie."

Since Whitten's comments were made in the context of Natal, perhaps we can see his words as an indication that the technology will evolve beyond Wii-style motion capture to sound detection and interpretation too. Potentially, it could even extend beyond the Xbox to connect directly to other devices that support its API. ®

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