There is a certain we try to capture here every day on PopSci.com, that effervescent sensation when the future becomes suddenly tangible, thrilling, real. That sharp, at times bewildering moment: "Wow."
After playing for four days, I can comfortably say Microsoft's Kinect, the Xbox 360's new sound and motion sensor for Xbox, delivers that feeling more than anything I've experienced recently. I feel safe calling it a bounding leap forward in potential for the future of gaming, your living room, and the way we interact with machines. But we're not living in that future fully just yet.
It may seem like Microsoft is crossing the finish line last in the motion-controller race, the one the Nintendo Wii started in 2006 and Sony joined earlier this year with the PlayStation 3's Move controller. But really, Kinect is a different thing altogether. The three main hardware components are off-the-shelf: a visible-light camera, a multi-array microphone and an infrared depth sensor that sprays your room with hundreds of IR dots. Microsoft poured its massive R&D resources into the software that processes all the data Kinect's humdrum hardware brings in. (We took a behind-the-scenes look at that software earlier this year).
It's the software brain that knows whether you're doing the Soulja Boy dance correctly, that filters out a room's ambient audio profile to process voice commands with incredible accuracy and speed, that spots the difference between your face and your brother's, instantly. What Kinect does is see and hear you, less like a machine and more like a form of intelligence. Which is pretty amazing.
Dance Central: The game Dance Central, by the creators of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, is very good. As is having goofy dance-offs with as many friends as possible, and seeing yourself in the high-speed animated GIFs Kinect's camera spits out at the end of every dance.
This: Flapping your arms to fly in zero gravity and holding them out to hover in Kinect Adventures. More please!
Most of the launch titles: With the single, shining exception of Dace Central, the launch titles feel more like tech demos than complete games. Which for a system like this is in many ways a necessity, but you can tell even now that most Kinect owners won't be playing many of these launch titles for more than a few months.
That said, the tech being demo'd is still pretty thrilling, so they're not without charms. My friends and I certainly enjoyed steering a car with our hands held Frankenstein-style in front of our faces clutching an invisible wheel in Kinect Joy Rides. Ping Pong in Kinect Sports is a blast. There is fun to be had, just probably not much staying power.
This is in some ways a good thing. When I really start to drool is while thinking about the seemingly limitless applications of some or all of Kinect's features into future games. The launch titles have set the foundation, now it's time to grow from there.
The space required: My apartment's living room is 12 feet deep, with a couch flush against the back wall and the TV console flush against the far wall. This is just barely enough space to operate Kinect. In the calibration routine, I can't really step into the back third of the viewing area. This causes the biggest problems in two-player simultaneous games. It had a hard time recognizing the faces of both drivers in a two-player Kinect Joy Ride race, and Kinect Adventures even advises against playing two-player modes in my setup.
You mean I have to stand up? Clearing your living room, standing up and really getting into it is a huge part of what makes playing a Kinect game fun. That said, I really wish it worked consistently while I was sitting down on the couch. I had a hard time paging through menus in the dashboard, or selecting and controlling videos in the Zune app without standing up. I'm fine with getting off my ass to bust a move, but not to use the default interface.
You can get Kinect bundled with the new, slimmer Xbox 360 console for $400 (with a 250GB hard drive), $300 (with 4GB of flash storage), or for $150 on its own, bundled with the game Kinect Adventures. Launch games are all priced around $50.
Like any new platform, Kinect is a set of tools waiting to be put to new and interesting uses. But what tools! Even with a fairly lackluster lineup of launch titles, it's clear that Kinect's abilities open up the Xbox 360 to so many new things. The big, as-yet unanswered question is how easy it wil be for developers to integrate Kinect features into their games. I really hope the answer isn't "hard." Think of what Call of Duty could be if you could give radio orders in natural speech (and without a geeky headset) to the AI-controlled members of your squad, who then responded to the level of urgency in your voice. Or, browsing Neflix with your hands while slumped on the couch.
In the launch titles, you can already see little hints of where some developers may take this. In Kinect Joy Ride, you can paint your car by holding up any object for Kinect's camera, aligning it with what amounts to a real-world Photoshop eyedropper tool. It's not a significant gameplay feature, but it's an interesting taste of what just a little creativity can get you on Kinect.
Did anyone know that this dose not pick up black people? There fixing it right now but thats kinda funny
DO you think after the millions of dollars invested into this technology they would some how forget to test it successfully on black or dark skinned people???? Kinect is not racit.... It all about lighting conditions.. http://g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/708490/is-kinect-racist-consumer-reports-says-no.html
You are reporting mis-information that was due to bad science. As a black kinect owner I can report that I spanked my friends at table tennis and bowling. Kinect Adventures IDs me right away and logs me in as my avatar.
Consumer Reports tested the rumors and found the original gamespot tests were not ideal. I believe gamespot has rescinded the article.
I own a Wii and its gimicky, the games are fun for 5 minutes then you realize oh yeah I LIKED sitting on the couch like a zombie with a 200 button controller playing 1st person shooters.
The Kinect seems like that, I'm not saying it won't have a few badass games but I think the handheld controller will live on.
So much pointless hype over what basically is, is a camera. It has already been done 5 years ago. Camera-based gaming is nothing new.
Ohhh, it's the future, it's the future! No, it's not.
The fact of the matter is that with this technology we will be able to change channels with out controlers. Turn on our computers with our voices maybe even turn on our cars just using voice command. With technology like kinect we would be able to use Maya programs with grace and ease no longer needing a mouse or keyboards the application are limitless
^ That has got to be a joke. There's no way that you can precisely track your finger movements with a single camera like the Kinect. Give me a break. People like you just don't understand technology and its limitations. And voice recognition is nothing new. I see that the MS hype is already infiltrating the clueless and ignorant minds who know nothing about technology.
Cool, still not getting it unless theres a larger variety of games for it.
Eyetoy for PS2, 2003. The future.
hahah it doesn't pick up black people that's sooo funny lol :D, wow well shame the thing is black poor guys have to deal with the darn wii and that things so white. well i feal the tech used is an advancement it has made a large step in depth perception cameras.
The thing that people need to realize is that even though the tech isn't new, it's refined, and becoming a not too distant standard. The Eyetoy for PS2 was marketed as a fun peripheral. But now competing gaming companies (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) are trying to make motion sensing mainstream. As I said, the tech isn't new, but the intention and selling points are different. Kinect is paving the way to full game immersion. Baby steps. It's only begun >:}
will it be able to sense the depth of my foot up my brothers ass for breaking my xbox and postponing me using this new hardware
I am probably one of the most ardent critics of Microsoft and their inability to satiate the needs of customers. I have felt for a long time that they needed new leadership. Leadership that is willing to go in a bolder direction and test the envelope of accepted technological limits.
With the introduction of the Kinect add on system for Xbox 360 and the quality of the new windows phone 7 protocol, I have become somewhat intrigued by the prospect of a successful and relevant Microsoft Corp. Don't get me wrong I still believe that Microsoft is missing the mark in many areas, but these two innovations are steps in the right direction, giving vital resuscitation to a critically ill corporation.
I find the comment about the inability of the Kinect system to detect African Americans quite surprising. I am an African America of fairly dark complexion. I have personally used the Kinect system and found it very responsive. I noticed no difference in how it responded to me and persons of a difference racial persuasion.
i agree, starvaros is an idiot.
BUT, the kinect sensor has extreme potential. And the fact of the matter is, this specific type of technology has NOT been used in video games before quite like this, though there have been attempts. And perhaps it cannot track your slightest finger movements just yet, but the the striking pin-point accuracy is not something to be overlooked. all im saying is, its not the most insane, craziest thing ever, but what did you expect? holograms?
It's new and has a ton of potential. Imagine playing with kinect sensor, 3D tv and a game designed to work intelligently with your tv. Interaction could be very cool.
Um..... the first comment on here is rude. You need to get a life, and stop being racist.
An interface like this for your home PC would be nice.
I have played with the Xbox 360 Kinect, and now own one, and for those who say it does not track well, play Your Shape by Ubisoft it is the most well done by far. And shows how much the Kinect can see you. There is a demo included with Kinect Adventures.
I work freelance for the game industry since the 16-bit consoles and PC's. I get so tired of people that are all show and no substance, (i.e. this is better than that; this does not work; damn this nothing more than "my dad can beat up your dad...grow up for jimminey crickets.) for once just bloody play what YOU like and get some common sense when hooking up your system and too hell with the Jones'. And to make this absolutely clear it is not the system what-so-ever, it is the games; most of all the games YOU like.
Now remember-Be nice to the little creatures and remember "what you do not know may not hurt you, but it sure will hurt someone else."
('ignorance is as ignorance does')
the kinect is ridiculously gay
Ive been playing this since it came out on november 4th. Yeah it has a few things that need to be fixed but all in all its a blast. When did everyone become such a critic? Remember the original nintendo when it first came out. We didnt care about the graphics then, we just had tons of fun with it.
As a black man standing at 6'4, I would like to address a couple issues here. First I had heard the same rumor that it didn't do so well with people of a darker skin tone. So the rumors say that gryzer is right (however brash his comment may have been); so go a little easy on him sammie. Like I said I am tall and black, but what I didn't mention is that I have a relatively small living room. It fits my son and wife fine for Kinect play, but when I see my own silhouette, the top portion of my head, and just a little bit of my feet are cut off. The only action I have any trouble with is jumping (and as I'm typing this I laugh thinking of the movie "White Men Can't Jump"). I also wear glasses which facial recognition tends to have problem seeing through, due to the reflections. I only take my glasses off when Kinect makes me sweat enough (I see well enough without them, but why not see as best you can). Maybe they found a way to work around the issue since testing/release. The point I am making here is that as a man of average African American skin tone, glasses, and above average height; I have had zero problems even with those factors stacked against me. Opportunities to test it are at almost every electronics store, go see for yourself. As much as I loved the fact that the Wii kept us from just button mashing, I love that Kinect has taken it a step further. Microsoft just might have changed the game here, but Nintendo convinced them they needed to do it. (I really love how tech wars keep things fresh *shivers*)
I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say "I agree with the bulk of the comments on here". that is to say I know it is an older technology type revamped, but it works and it does so very well! Also i'm in agreement re:lack of quality games, but I think if you do some searching you can clearly see it didnt take long for developers to jump on the bandwagon. Personlly I'm looking forward to playing Kinect enabled Starwars yeah.. but "Draco" looks even cooler