Microsoft is dropping Kinect from its Xbox One console bundles, and Dave Cook reckons that’s a damn shame, seeing as the device’s modding community came out with some genuinely neat concepts. He runs down some of the best mods while pondering what could have been had Microsoft paid better attention.
By now you’ve probably seen the news that Microsoft is going to start selling Xbox One without Kinect at a cheaper price.
While the internet’s had a big old chuckle about Microsoft’s string of u-turns making them dizzy and so on, I actually think it’s a shame. I don’t necessarily feel bad because Kinect is in danger of fading into obscurity, it’s because the company has handled this all wrong. It’s a wasted chance.
If you want an example of emergent tech that is being given time to evolve correctly, you need look no further than this:
People scoff and say they’d never buy an Oculus Rift because it looks like a gimmick, but in reality it’s not finished yet, and won’t be for a very long time. The tech is growing naturally in the hands of keen inventors, modders and coders who are coming out with genuinely interesting concepts that contribute to the headset’s growth.
Microsoft, on the other hand, developed Kinect in secret with its closest internal studios and failed – miserably – to embrace the smart prototypes coming out of the modding community (save for a few apps that quickly died). It’s the same breed of foolish, guarded thinking that led to the clumsy Xbox One reveal policies.
I believe Hall and Oates said it best. Hit it lads:
If you look – I mean really look – at some of the Kinect mods out there, you’ll see the start of some genuinely interesting concepts that could have flourished into something attractive and meaningful, given time. When I say ‘time’ I mean potentially years here, because that’s what it takes to hone new tech, although can’t see Microsoft ever taking as long as Oculus has to make Kinect work in this manner.
So let’s look at some brilliant Kinect mods made by the community to see what Microsoft could have had, shall we?
Oliver Kreylos and his virtual office space
By carefully positioning three Xbox 360 Kinect sensors in a play-space, putting on an Oculus Rift headset and dropping himself into a virtual office space, Kreylos is able to walk around the rendered environment in real-time, while still being able to see parts of his captured anatomy. You can see this when he looks down at his hands, for example.
Oculus and Kinect could have made quite the formidable pair, had the concept of dropping yourself into fully motion-controlled virtual spaces been given time to breathe on Xbox One. I guess now we’ll never know.
This robot that copies your motions
In these days of Skylanders figurines, Disney Infinity playsets and – it seems – these interactive Nintendo figures, who can say what the future of these plastic pals might hold? The Kinect mod above was posted a few years back by YouTuber ikaziso.
Like many of the clips on this page, the tech shown is crude, but had it been given space to grow, we could have seen players controlling their figures using real motions, like the big, neurally-linked Jaegers in that film Pacific Rim, but much smaller.