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Microsoft unveils Kinect at Cirque-esque event (photos)

With assistance from Cirque du Soleil, Microsoft uses a flashy E3 event to unveil Kinect, the controller-less game system for XBox 360.

CNET Reviews staff

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1 of 13 James Martin/CNET

Kinect event

Microsoft unveiled its controller-free video game system Kinect on Sunday night in Los Angeles, un-officially kicking off the Electronic Entertainment Expo, one of the world's largest annual gaming conventions.
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Arriving

Arriving at the Galen Center on Sunday evening, thousands wound past limber performance artists who resembled indigenous jungle people from another planet, a mix of Avatar and India, who wildly beat drums and summoned attendees into the hall.
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On the streets of LA

Creatures greeted the crowd before the launch of Microsoft's controller-free Kinect gaming system, which Microsoft first announced at E3 in 2009 under the name Project Natal.
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White smocks

As people entered the building, staff handed out white poncho-like smocks to attendees, saying only that the costumes were part of an interactive portion of the evening.
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More white smocks

The white smocks, with stiff shoulder pads, felt like the costume for a low-budget sci-fi flick or a dystopian uniform for the masses.
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6 of 13 James Martin/CNET

Jungle-like set

The jungle-like set was crawling with a dozens of Cirque du Soleil performers, who crowded around the rocky base as a young boy beat increasingly modern versions of video games, before reaching the top of the hill, where he encountered the controller-free, motion-based system Kinect.
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Kinect

Kinect, the project from Microsoft formerly known as Project Natal, works with Xbox 360.
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White smocks turn green

The white smocks handed out to attendees were dormant for much of the performance and briefly flashed green at the initial introduction of Kinect. Later in the performance, the smock shoulders changed colors and displayed patterns based on their location.
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Hanging couch

A family sat in a couch suspended in the air (left) at one end of the Galen Center.
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Boy summoned

The performance began with jungle sounds and rhythmic drumming, as a village deity summoned a boy from the couch hanging on the opposite end of the venue, with the jungle creatures delivering the boy and a glowing green orb to the base of the monolith.
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Jungle and living rooms

In a performance that juxtaposed organic elements with technology, Cirque du Soleil dancers wildly climbed the rocky monolith and the center of the stage as dancers in cubes above mimicked the motions of Kinect gameplay.
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Coloful finale

In a colorful finale, the white cloaks flashed colors based on their locations.
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13 of 13 James Martin/CNET

Man vs. machine

The relationship of humans to machines was a theme throughout the night, with a booming voice declaring that "...this time human beings will be at the center, and the machine will be the one that adapts."

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