Microsoft's Shane Kim has said that the systems making up Project Natal have been in development "for a long time", and distanced the full-body motion-sensing camera from the company's acquisition of 3DV Systems.
Following the announcement at the platform holder's E3 conference on Monday, many assumed that Natal's technology and 3DV's (seen in late 2007 prior to the company's acquisition) were one and the same, but Kim told VentureBeat, "At Microsoft Research, we have had a lot of working going on for a long time."
His colleague Aaron Greenberg was even more direct. Asked whether Natal was derived from 3DV technology, he told Eurogamer: "No, we built this in house."
"None of those rumours did justice to what we were actually doing with Project Natal. People expected a controller you put in your hands," Kim said to VentureBeat. "We have done a lot of work in natural user interfaces. Voice recognition is one of them. That's why we have been able to deliver development kits for it this week."
Microsoft hasn't gone it completely alone though, as Kim admitted "it's a combination of partners and our own software", and some have theorised that acquisitions like 3DV's were designed to insure the company against similar patents. "You have to be very aware," Kim said. "We want to ensure that we have great intellectual property protection. You have to have a strong legal approach, and this is not easy stuff. It has to be all buttoned up, legally. We have had a very concerted focus on this."
Elsewhere in the interview, Kim implied that Natal was as good as a new console anyway. "We firmly believe that the Xbox 360 has a life cycle through 2015," he said when asked about future plans for Xbox.