Project Natal due next holiday season, could hit PCs

That somewhat lackluster tablet introduction wasn't all Microsoft had to show the crowd at CES last night. The company also played up Project Natal, saying the upcoming full-body controller will become available for "every Xbox 360" in the 2010 holiday season.

In case you missed all the commotion last year, here's how Microsoft describes the technology:

"Project Natal" combines an RGB camera, depth sensor and multiarray microphone running proprietary software that brings "Project Natal" experiences to every Xbox 360 console. The "Project Natal" sensor tracks full-body movement and individual voices, turning you into the controller for social entertainment available only on Xbox 360.

The depth sensor uses an infrared projector and a monochrome sensor to "see the room in 3-D under any lighting conditions," while the multi-array microphone can "locate voices by sound and extract ambient noise." Microsoft showed this promotional video with clips of Project Natal in action during its CES keynote:

While Microsoft's CES press materials don't mention PC compatibility, Shacknews points out that Bill Gates evoked non-gaming uses for Windows last summer. Gates said Project Natal could be hooked up to a PC and used for "meetings, and collaboration, and communication." Since Microsoft goes through the trouble of selling a specially packaged Xbox 360 controller for Windows, a Windows version of the Natal hardware may not be a stretch.

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