Microsoft | Xbox 360
There are no flying cars or four-course meal pills, but the future is here. Motion-capture gaming is not a new technology—Nintendo’s Wii was the first to hit the market in 2006, and Sony’s PlayStation 3 came out with the Eye earlier this year. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 add-on ups the ante in a way that heralds a new age in not only gaming, but also consumer technology. The Kinect sensor uses a camera, microphone and thousands of infrared sensors to allow players to navigate menus and play games with 3-D motion capture. The included series of mini games, Kinect Adventures!, is fun and shows off the peripheral’s capabilities and spot-on motion tracking, but grows repetitive too quickly. Of the launch titles, Dance Central (a dancing version of Rock Band) demands the most attention; it’s perfect for parties and guarantees that any skill level can bust a move. Most impressive is the Kinect’s precision. Switching out or adding another player is seamless; facial-recognition software will sign you into your account; and the camera automatically follows you during video chat. The Kinect needs six to eight feet of clear space to function properly, possibly problematic for dorms or bedrooms, but its accuracy, potential, and Minority Report-like coolness are well worth rearranging the furniture for.