Xbox's "Project Natal" renamed, unveiled

UPDATE: Microsoft has announced the release date for the Kinect device as November 3, 2010. Still no price.

Just prior to this week’s E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles (no, I’m not there, and yes, there are tears), Microsoft put together a mega-event to officially take the wraps off the new motion-controller product that until now has been only known by its codename: Project Natal.

The new name is Kinect — which makes me think of K’NEX building toys — and it was shown off at a multimedia event that can only be described as “bizarre,” by all accounts. If Microsoft was in the market for a bizarre event, then they went to the right place, because nobody does weird like Cirque du Soleil.

The Galen Center was home to the world premiere of Kinect for Xbox 360, an experience that took four months for Cirque to create. Among the features: a 25-foot-high projection screen, a giant, 9-foot-tall elephant puppet, and a 40-feet-in-diameter steel ball shaped like the Xbox 360’s power button. Without a doubt, the most talked about facet of the production was the white ponchos that attendees were asked to wear upon entering the stadium. These ponchos — which apparently were very hot to wear — had big shoulder pads that lit up in time with music from the show.

So we now have a title, and a good look at the Kinect hardware. And Microsoft also announced a very vague release date for Kinect: “this holiday.” Hopefully the big Xbox Media Briefing this morning at E3 will provide all of the remaining details. Where the Cirque event was all splash and razzle-dazzle, the Media Briefing is traditionally a very impressive event, packed with details on game announcements and exclusive premieres. (Can you tell I miss not being there? Sigh.)

Incidentally, if you’d like to watch Cirque du Xbox for yourself, the 45-minute show is being edited down to a commercial-free 30-minute broadcast for MTV on Tuesday, June 15th, at 3:3pm. The Xbox Media Briefing is airing live this afternoon on SpikeTV at 1:30PM EST.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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