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.