Before I start, with this blog post, I should let you know about my views on Microsoft and their products: I disagree with their anticompetitive business practices, think that their market dominance is bad for the IT industry and the global economy as a whole. As most human beings I live in a bit of a contradiction: although a Linux user and a Microsoft Windows OS boycotter, I own and use a Microsoft XBOX 360 games console, pay for and use XBOX Live Gold membership and generally am a bit of an XBOX 360 fanboy. I am aware that this is going to attract hate comments on my blog, accusations of hypocrisy and moral inconsistency as well as just general spam.
|The Kinect Sensor Peripheral For The XBOX 360|
A week ago Microsoft launched its Kinect for XBOX 360 in the UK. Kinect is a webcam-style peripheral (accessory) for the Xbox 360 games console, it enables users to interact with the XBOX 360 without a physical controller using body gestures and spoken commands.
During the month of September I was at a Microsoft training event for the Kinect, and tried out the pre-release beta of the peripheral and some of the games that would be available for it at launch. It was great fun, and gave me a good idea of how it would work on the XBOX 360. At a conference in October, I got to mess around with it again, try out more games and lose any street-cred I had left on stage in front of other conference delegates. (currently my street-cred it is at an all time low, probably in a negative range...).
On the day before the launch, my colleagues and I set up an XBOX 360 with a Kinect sensor and hooked it up to a 40" LED backlit LCD TV. Since then it has attracted a lot of interest from people of many different age groups passing by in-store. Image conscious customers won't step in front of it to try it out, but sometimes walk to a checkout to purchase it anyway. Kids love it and often are parked at the display while their parents browse other departments or are doing the rest of their shopping.
Kinect is a direct competitor to the Nintendo Wii and Sony's Playstation Move. In my opinion it is a superior system, and much better value for money than its competitors. Here's a summary of why:
- Kinect is a one off purchase as far as peripherals go. There is no need to purchase extra conrollers or controller add-ons (as is the case with the Wii and Playstation Move) both for single and multi-player use.
- Kinect is better value for money when bundled with a console and is on a platform that can provide HD entertainment (unlike the Nintendo Wii)
- Kinect uses full body control which means you can use your whole body to control the games and/or interfaces (unlike the Nintendo Wii or Playstation Move which only track one point in space on the conroller). Think of it like multi-touch on a touchscreen but with depth added to it.
- Voice control with Kinect is very, very good. In-store we have a pretty loud and noisy environment, yet it still works most of the time. Apparently voice recognition is coming to Kinect in a future update as well.
- Open Source drivers have been already developed and released less than a week from the UK launch. If you want to, you can plug a Kinect Sensor into your PC and use it as a 3D video capture tool (it works out cheaper than buying a 3D webcam...)
The games available at launch with the device are pretty varied and aimed at the "casual gamer" market created and dominated up until now by Nintendo with the Wii console. Dance Central by Harmonix (developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band) is a Guitar Hero like game where your guided dance moves earn you points. While with Guitar Hero and Rock Band all you do is tap buttons in certain sequences, with Dance Central and Kinect you have to actually replicate dance moves. This is probably my favourite game for Kinect so far and lead cause of my negative street-cred.
Kinect has pushed me further into XBOX 360 Fanboy territory, and deeper into a hole in moral no man's land when it comes to my views on tech and IT. Kinect for XBOX 360 is now on my tech and gadget shopping list.