Remember at about 1:55 in the Lionhead video of Project Natal, Peter Molyneux (now creative director at Microsoft Game Studios
) points out "This wasn't acted"? If you don't, the video is below. Well, maybe that particular moment of goggle throwing wasn't.
What's interesting, however, is that Peter also points out (1:58) that "Everybody, every single person, that has experienced this reaches down (to catch the goggles that Milo throws)". Sure, this demo featuring uncanny Milo was obviously run hundreds of times with various staff members before being rolled out in front of the E3 crowds. That said, then, we can't be expected to believe that this is the first time that 'Claire' stood in front of the virtual lad. Something rankled...
Fast forward to 2:36 on the video, where Claire (or Clare) plays with the water. The reflection of Clare on screen shows her arms in roughly the correct positions in respect to real Clare. The water seems to be moving based in her hand movements.
However, keep watching to the point (2:37) where she appears to make a rippled appear on the left-hand side of the screen. Real Clare's arms are almost crossed in front of her. 'Reflected' Clare's arms are spread out. Even more startling is the fact that (see the screenshot) the ripple begins before Clare begins her gesture.
Says Peter Molyneux at this point, "There Clare is, in Milo's world. She's in that pond. Every hand movement is being recognised." Well, from the look of the footage is seems that either every hand movement is being pre-recognised, which is even more of an achievement.
Another few moments of fun include Clare's picture of a fish at about 3:35. Says Peter, "Clare drew a picture on a piece of paper... Milo looked at that piece of paper, recognised the shape, recognised the colour... and able to get on with his project". Sure, there's a bad piece of editing between "colour" and "able to get on" but that's not really the issue. The fact is that all Milo says is, "Orange, that's good", no fish recognition there. But we nitpick on that one.
The reason for the nitpickery being that darned pre-gesture ripple and the position of Clare's arms.
The fact that Peter ends his Molyneuxian presentation with, "This is true technology that science fiction has not even written about... and this works... today... now".
Weeeeell, sort of. Let's get one thing straight, we're not saying that Natal is out-and-out FUD that will never appear and that the Milo/Lionhead video is a complete and utter fake. We are saying that the Lionhead video is rather more acted, rather less well edited and just a tad less pushing the boundaries of "true technology" than we'd initially been lead to believe.
That is, of course, unless Milo's pond can recognise a hand movement before it's made.