Building relationships with Microsoft’s Milo

ss_preview_2.jpgDuring Microsoft’s E3 keynote presentation last night Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux demonstrated Milo, a virtual 10-year-old boy. Users interact with Milo via full-body motion tracking (courtesy of Project Natal, Microsoft’s new camera tracking accessory) and voice commands. In the demo Milo demonstrates impressive AI, tracking the demonstrators’ movement, and answering her questions, also making observations about the user’s clothes and expression. While Milo is a tech demo, and presumably the demonstration is scripted to play to the AI’s strengths, it’s an impressive performance.

While Project Natal has Wii-like possibilities for full-body videogaming, Milo seems a more curious prospect. Much of the internet reaction has focused on the fact that interacting with Milo doesn’t appear very gamelike, and the odd mother-son relationship between Milo and Claire, the demonstrator, backs up this viewpoint. At first glance, the Milo application appears to be less a game and more a simulator along the lines of Nintendogs, but far more lifelike and personal.

I’ll be interested to see whether Milo’s subsequent outings tend towards game features (e.g. Animal Crossing), purer simulation (e.g. Nintendogs), or – admittedly less likely given that this is Xbox rather than Wii – possible educational applications.

Click here to see a video demonstration of Milo, and here for a Youtube video shocasing Project Natal.

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