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Kinect is dead: even these awesome mods couldn’t keep it alive

Thursday, 15th May 2014 07:51 GMT By Dave Cook

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.

xbox_one_kinect

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:

oculus_rift

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.

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10 Comments

  1. Xbone

    It was dead on arrival.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. Redh3lix

    Been gaming since Spectrum and have seen VR come and go with a fanfare of “wow look at this!”. Waste of time. I personally do not see the fascination of stepping into a VR office (or ANY virtual environment). Actually no, the porn industry would do great from a VR perspective (no, seriously) once the graphics meet requirements.

    #2 4 months ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    Kinect’s biggest problem is that it just didn’t work properly. The vision was great, but there are just too many variables to it. If your room isn’t big enough, or if the lighting doesn’t work for it, or whatever, then it struggles. And unless you can completely depend on it, it’ll never be adopted wholesale. It’s a real shame, in my opinion. It could have been amazing. It could still.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. undermyrules

    it was never alive in the first place…

    #4 4 months ago
  5. TheVoiceOfReason

    Kinect is far from dead. Look at Kinect for Windows, the enterprise industry is where Kinect is really being used at the moment and considering that’s where MS makes their money I don’t think it been dropped as mandatory for Xbox has too much of an impact on the future of the device itself.
    MS really need to get their act together though, here’s a new Kinect sensor but we have no compelling software to support it, despite knowing about coming of the V2 years before the Xbox One even launched.

    #5 4 months ago
  6. AmiralPatate

    What Microsoft did wrong is that they didn’t give it proper support to begin with. It should have been standard that all 360 games post-Kinect integrate at least vocal commands. Something they finally did with Xbox One. It’s like their digital future. They tried to push it forward, but they haven’t quite pushed it hard and good enough.

    Then again, motion gaming seems cool when you see those treadmills/Oculus combo, and then you realise you don’t actually want to walk all the way to Mordor, because that thing is far. Sitting on your butt doesn’t take much physical effort, the same can’t be said of gesturing around. It makes you exercise a bit, which is rather good, but if you’re dead after 10 minutes you’d better not be playing some combat heavy game. So I can see why gamers aren’t a big fan of that. The good approach here is maybe keep it simple.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen non-gaming applications of Kinect, and there definitely are other fields of application than gaming. Microsoft being a top dog of the software market could try and figure some use for it. They have the facial recognition login system for Xbox One, that’s something that could be applied to Windows, or in a more business approach, use that to keep track of who’s there or whatever. They have the technology and they aren’t doing much with it, and I agree with Dave one that, it’s a shame to see it wasted.

    #6 4 months ago
  7. jonnymelamet

    Some of these are awesome.

    I hope that Microsoft does keep supporting the Kinect after this irksome turn of events.

    There are some indies to look forward to and the technology is being used in a very interesting capacity alongside the Oculus rift and other devices.

    PS. I am looking forward to when Fru is released on Xbox One and I feel happy to be an early adopter when seeing games like this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9GU9XRTYAc

    #7 4 months ago
  8. jonnymelamet

    Edit: I meant support it for Windows. I know that unless there is a mass of sales of the Kinect on its own (is that even an option?), it is pretty much dead on the Xbox One.

    #8 4 months ago
  9. bradk825

    It may go back to the same thing written a few days ago, MS acted with hubris going into this gen. They said “If we cast a vision all our loyal followers will buy into it.” They found out that those loyal followers were actually mostly made up of consumers who will choose what they want, not was they are told to want.

    I think they’ve been served with a wake-up call and you can see that Spencer is turning things around, but it may have come too late to save Kinect.

    #9 4 months ago
  10. AlexSmith

    Anybody who thinks the Oculus Rift is a gimmick hasn’t tried one.
    I’ve had one for almost a year and everyone I’ve demoed it to walks away amazed.

    #10 3 months ago

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