Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Future is Now

molyneux, milo, natal, gaming, microsoft, xbox
If you're not a big gamer, you probably missed Microsoft's unveiling of Natal and Milo yesterday at E3.

You missed the future.

I have said for years that the first people to make working AI would be video game developers, and it appears that I am right.

Natal is completely controller-free gaming. Essentially, (and this is a very basic description) the new "controller" is a body mapping system that allows the xbox to translate body motions as small as 2 millimeters into game play. So, instead of using the buttons on a controller to make the character walk, you simply move your legs in a walking motion, and your character walks forward. Want to duck a bullet? Jerk your body in a ducking motion, and your character plays along. No more dying because you pressed A instead of X. Gaming will be intuitive and immersive, and as a gamer, I can't wait.

Milo is even more amazing. The brainchild of developer Peter Molyneux, Milo is interactive AI that can converse like a human, read facial expressions and interact with real life motions and objects, like a drawing. (Seriously, the thing reads facial expressions.)

The implications for gaming are obvious. The real life implications are even more amazing. Think about physical therapy. If you've ever done it, you know physical therapy is hard, painful and boring. It's also difficult, because you have to do the motions exactly right in order to get the benefits and avoid further injury.

Now imagine physical therapy with Natal and Milo. Instead of walking pointlessly on a treadmill, you're adventuring through a forest. And, if you move your legs incorrectly, your virtual friend can correct you instantly, even show you how to move correctly. Milo could also identify from your facial expressions your level of pain and adjust the therapy accordingly, or instruct you to stop and be evaluated by a professional before proceeding.

Imagine the new training for an undercover police officer. Milo can read facial expressions. So, in the safety of a virtual undercover world, a police officer can learn how to act appropriately without risk.

Imagine learning how to lay flooring or fix your vacuum cleaner, without the expensive real life learning curve that wastes materials.

The future is now, my friends, and it's courtesy of the gaming world.


  1. I can only think of one thing to say:

    Fuck Ya!

  2. Is this available for the GameBoy, or will I have to upgrade?

    Seriously, this is immense - I'm going to check out those links and ruin the rest of what was, up until now, a relatively productive day!

    Cheers PF!

  3. "We would all love to one day have our own personal holodeck. This is a pretty measurable step in that direction."


  4. It's gaming that's going to give us our flying cars. Or create Skynet.

  5. This is so COOL!!!!! I have to blog about this RIGHT NOW!!!!

    fyi, that is pretty much exactly what my girlfriend would say, "Oh great, we are a step closer to skynet!"

  6. how would these work for people like us? i don't mean the PT parts, those make sense and sound totally kick ass

    i mean, will *I* or *YUU* or anyone with disabilitie even worse? is this a sysetm that only reacts to the impulses in the muscle, or do you HAVE to make the total mobrmrnyzzz/

    need sleep, thats what my meds are saying, i tried really hard to be coherant... so i stop now... i was sleeping in that last sentence, on the laundry Pete did, even folding, so it is in neatly folded stacks - on *my*
    bed. he says this is because my bed i closer to th dresser; i suspect this i actually a ploy to get me to slee with him on his bed. you see, i need a soooooooooooooooft bedm he needs a haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard bed, and we are beyond broke so a sleepnumber bad is out of the question, so we have shoved our to beds together, great in theoru, practice is meh

    i am going to sleep will be back for real tomorrow :)

  7. Oh, they thought of us. You will still be able to use a controller, and the motion capture doesn't require a full movement, it is capable of interpreting very small ones.

  8. that is awesome! i will need to try...

    and wow. it took me over 2 hours to write that, cuz i kept falling asleep, and it makes little sense lol


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