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10 Ways The Kinect Failed Out Of Our Living Rooms

Microsoft had such high hopes for Kinect. Jumping into the giant wake created by Nintendo's smash hit Wii, the Kinect first debuted as the Xbox 360's response to motion-controlled gaming in 2010. A huge marketing push drove early adoption of the peripheral, with sales topping 10 million in just three months. The future looked bright.

So bright, in fact, that Microsoft doubled down by including an enhanced version of the peripheral in the box for Xbox 360's successor, the Xbox One, upon its launch last November. But with Microsoft announcing an Xbox One bundle that removes Kinect from the package, the Kinect's 15 minutes of fame look to be over. With this new reality setting in, we count down 10 ways the Kinect failed Microsoft and consumers.

10. Asleep On The Job

Before Microsoft announced the Xbox One to the world, it brought out a small group of journalists to show off the new hardware behind closed doors. The centerpiece of the experience was a drastically upgraded Kinect that boasted improved depth recognition and better camera performance in low lighting conditions. Microsoft even said it could perform skeletal tracking that would allow it to read the room and immediately identify users positioned in front of it, signing them in automatically.

This sounds great in practice, but in reality the Kinect is sleeping on the job. Using the device at home, many of us have experienced scenarios where we sit down and start watching television, only to have the Kinect recognize us after being seated for upwards of 20 minutes. These delayed responses paint a drastically different (and inferior) picture of performance.

9. Anchoring Gamers To Entertainment

When integrating Kinect into the Xbox One, Microsoft had designs on moving the peripheral's functionality beyond simply supporting motion-controlled games and into everyday interaction with the myriad entertainment options available on the Xbox One. But the platform faced one major hurdle that it never overcame – not everyone needs the Xbox One to be a voice controlled all-in-one entertainment device, because just about every television, Blu-ray player, and streaming device offers a comparable suite of media apps.

8. The Resolution War

Whenever new hardware comes out, technophiles banter in forums and on social media about which console is truly the most powerful. Sometimes the differences are marginal to an untrained eye, but to the hardcore these points of distinction matter and can influence purchasing decisions. After the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched, many noticed that Sony's console was consistently producing better resolutions. Part of this reason is the Xbox One partitions some of its power to the Kinect. The tech wizards at Digital Foundry speculate that the Xbox One reserves 10 percent of its graphics resources to "Kinect and apps functionality." That 10 percent being funneled away from developers was enough to funnel some users away from Xbox and toward PlayStation. Now that it's unbundled, Microsoft has hinted that removing Kinect could allow developers to access more of that power, but some damage has already been done.

7. Thinking Of Voice Navigation First

With the Xbox One, Microsoft spent a considerable effort to create myriad ways owners could use simple voice commands to navigate the dashboard. This came at the expense of the basic controller-based navigation that the majority of gamers use on a regular basis. This fact was not lost on Microsoft executives. After they removed the Kinect requirement, Phil Spencer admitted Microsoft needed to rethink the user interface. "When we made the decision that you could unplug Kinect, we had to think about somebody using the dash with just a controller," he said. "Even if you have Kinect plugged in, there are people who are just going to use the controller for certain parts of the dash. We're committed to updating the dash for all users." That miscalculation didn't help endear anyone to the Kinect's cause, regardless of how cool the idea sounds of using your voice to navigate menus. It was also a half-baked approach, as three of the thirteen launch countries still have no voice command functions, and only five of the remaining ten have "natural voice/full functionality."

6. Tail Wagging Interference

Microsoft once celebrated Kinect's ability to use gesture recognition for menu navigation. Simply wave your hand in the air and it would become a cursor, allowing you to hover the hand icon on the app or screen function you wanted to use. This system has caused more harm than good, reading my overzealous dog's wagging tail as a hand and fast-forwarding and rewinding movies at random times. You would think a powerful camera that can supposedly articulate individual fingers would be able to tell the difference between a furry tail and a human hand.

Read on to see the Kinect's most significant failures.

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