Microsoft Xbox Kinect | Motion-controlled gaming goes hands free


The Kinect will take the XBox 360 controller out of your hands and turn your body into the controller. Image from Flickr.

At the E3 2010 trade show, Microsoft announced the new gaming system – Microsoft Kinect. What had been code-named Microsoft Natal, the XBox Kinect is already creating excitement among gamers and non-gamers alike. Much like the Wii gaming system, the Xbox Kinect encourages real movement – but unlike the Wii, the Kinect will focus on full-body movement. Release of the Microsoft Kinect will most likely be in November, and the Kinect will be sold as an add-on to the XBox 360 gaming system.

Xbox Kinect Announcement

The official announcement of the Xbox Kinect happened at the E3 conference. At 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time Monday Morning, a Microsoft Kinect press conference will be held that will (most likely) announce official release date, price, and features list. In general, the Cirque de Soleil release party was the “coming out” party for the Kinect system. You can see a live update of the 10:30 a.m. Microsoft Kinect press conference at the TWiT TV live stream.

How the Kinect works

The Microsoft Kinect system, if rumors are true, uses a two-camera system to capture motion. One RGB camera will recognize your face and joints, while another will be programmed specifically to recognize depth. This system will let the Kinect track and re-create full-body movements.This means there will be no controllers and no separation between game and player. The system appears to be programmed to recognize faces as well.

Games on the Kinect

The Microsoft Kinect, as an add-on to the Microsoft XBox, is slated to debut with a fairly wide range of games. LucasArts is partnering with the Microsoft Kinect application designers to create a Star Wars game that will be a heavily-scripted, light-saber smash-em-up game. There will also be a general sports game, a dance challenge, and more. The most exciting thing, for many gamers, is the possibility that Xbox games such as Halo Reach may migrate over to the Kinect as well. This, of course, means that gamers will be able to play as if they are themselves the Master Chief – if they’re willing to give up the controller.

Alternatives to the Microsoft Kinect

Since the success of the Nintendo Wii, many game console makers have been developing more interactive game systems. The Microsoft Project Natal, now renamed Xbox Kinect, is the first-to-be-announced system of the like. However, there are other alternatives to the Microsoft Kinect. Sony has been working on a system called the “Move” that will use a wand controller, but be half the price or less of the Kinect. The expense of these systems are in the multi-billion dollar development of software – and recognizing both faces and body movements are an expensive prospect for programmers. With a wide variety of body types, heights, and forms of motion to recognize, these software systems can easily run into the several hundred million mark. However, with the Wii’s commercial success, it has been proven that interactive gaming is the way to move gaming to a wider – and therefore more profitable – audience. Considering that the first Microsoft XBox lost over $1 billion, it isn’t a surprise they are trying to “add on” rather than release a new system.



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