Consumer Reports debunks “dark-skinned” Kinect issues once and for all

By Stephany Nunneley, Friday, 5 November 2010 20:25 GMT

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No word on whether those with chartreuse-colored skin have issues with Kinect.

Consumer Reports has tested the theory that Kinect has issues recognizing those with darker toned skin. What the consumer magazine found, was that the issues Kinect had with facial recognition boiled down to nothing but poor lighting in the room, and furthermore, the issue didn’t “prevent anyone from playing Kinect games”.

Here’s the blurb:

The log-in problem is related to low-level lighting and not directly to players’ skin color. Like the HP webcam, the Kinect camera needs enough light and contrast to determine features in a person’s face before it can perform software recognition and log someone into the game console automatically. Essentially, the Kinect recognized both players at light levels typically used in living rooms at night and failed to recognize both players when the lights were turned down lower. So far, we did not experience any instance where one player was recognized and the other wasn’t under the same lighting conditions.

This problem didn’t prevent anyone who was affected from playing Kinect games, since it can “see” and track players’ bodies and motions using a built-in infrared lighting system.

To sum up, the Kinect recognition issues affect automatic logins to the Xbox it’s attached to if it’s being used in poorly lit environments. But even without facial recognition, player can still log in to their personal avatars using simple hand-gestures or with standard Xbox controllers.  Gameplay wasn’t affected at all, even in totally dark rooms.

The report goes on to state that Kinect users will “want to turn on as many room lights as required to see room furniture or other objects on the floor” since it is a motion game after all.

Consumer Reports decided to test the skin issue theory after a report on Gamespot claimed to have facial recognition issues for two of its testers.

Head on over through the blurb link and see the test for yourself.

Thanks, Joystiq.

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