Microsoft's hands-free Kinect set for back-to-school store demos

The Xbox 360's hands-free Kinect controller will be available for the public to try out in 13 Macy's stores across the USA from July 15 onwards, ahead of its retail street date of November 4.

Kinect is a camera that plugs into the Xbox 360 and can interpret voice commands and movements, meaning that players can interact with games without having to use a traditional control pad.

The device can also be used for video phone calls and incorporates facial recognition technology so that it knows who is in charge. Though a price confirmation is not expected until mid-August, many retailers are taking pre-orders at $149 / €149.

Microsoft are hoping that it will help make the Xbox 360 a family entertainment center, and the collaboration with Macy's comes at a time when the chain is gearing up to welcome mothers and their teen daughters in preparation for the new school year.

The participating stores are at Herald Square in New York; Roosevelt Field in Garden City (NY); Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia; Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio; State Street, Chicago; Lenox Square Mall, Atlanta; Dadeland Mall, Miami; Galleria Mall, Houston; Scottsdale, Arizona; Bellevue Proper, Bellevue, WA; and South Coast Plaza, Pleasanton, and Santa Clara in California.

Sony is also investing in intuitive motion controls with the PlayStation 3's Move range, out on September 15 in Europe and September 19 in North America, with the most essential bits and pieces bundled for $99 / €59.

Nintendo, maker of the super-popular Wii, is pursuing handheld 3D instead with the Nintendo 3DS - no firm release information yet, though it will be out before March 2011, more likely by December 2010 in Japan, and expected to cost between $200 and $250.

Previously announced was a promotional agreement between Chevrolet and Microsoft that meant Chevy would benefit from software and hardware expertise, while Kinect demo pods would be placed within Chevrolet showrooms.