Microsoft gave a rather bold live demo of its newly acquired Project Natal, a smart camera that can motion-capture participants using a single camera device. This may sound like a gimmick, but the demos are surprising and effective. Included in the system are both image and voice recognition systems that are used to recognize the current user and interpret commands, respectively. I think the possibilities just for the social and device browsing features are pretty cool - built in voice and video chat, voice-activated, as well as being able to browse to your favourite downloaded media using hand motions. Kind of makes Minority Report seem a little clunky, actually.
Probably the most impressive demonstration of the technology is the Milo video, featuring Lionhead and Peter Molyneux.
Thanks to Trevor, who pointed out that Penny Arcade has the best take on Natal:
And then there was the PS3, that stayed with the conventional, and yet refined Nintendo's motion controller with one that appears to be much, much more sensitive. I think this is actually a pretty smart move on their part, since they are now working with a refinement on a proven technology. It remains to be seen whether they can get these controllers to the 15 million or so install base that the PS3 currently enjoys.
I found the handwritting demo to be the most effective. I mentioned to a collegue that the token Sony Demo Geek could write better in virtual space than I can on paper.
And finally, there was Nintendo. You'd think that the company that revolutionized and galvanized the gaming industry would want to follow that up with something that would keep them one step ahead of the competition. With that in mind, Nintendo unveiled Vitality, which is basically a heartbeat sensor that attaches to your finger. “...Intends to have you see the information relating to the inner world of your body," is the quote from Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. At this rate, you can soon expect an electronic rectal thermometer from the esteemed "gaming" company in the coming years. With force feedback.