Tag Archives | Microsoft Kinect

2010 Game Sales: It's Now Microsoft's Game to Lose

The NPD Group’s North American video game sales figures usually present a chance for publishers to spin the facts and crow about their accomplishments. But in the industry’s second consecutive year of decline, Microsoft’s the only company with bragging rights.

Consumers spent $6.2 billion on the Xbox 360 last year, more than any other game console according to Microsoft. And in December, Microsoft sold 1.86 million Xbox 360s, making it the only game console to grow year-over-year last month.

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PrimeSense and Asus Bringing Kinect Tech to PCs

It was just over a year ago when PrimeSense showed me (and Harry, separately) a demo of the motion-sensing camera technology that helps power Microsoft’s Kinect game controller. Now, PrimeSense is spreading out and partnering with Asus for gesture control on PCs.

The WAVI Xtion is a motion sensor for browsing multimedia and Internet content, using PrimeSense’s camera and infrared sensor tech to track users in 3D space. It’s meant for home theater PCs and will be commercially available in the second quarter, price unspecified.

More exciting, I think, is Xtion PRO, a tool for third-party developers to create their own gesture-based applications and software. Asus plans to host an online store for developers to hawk their motion-sensing apps, presumably to consumers who buy the WAVI Xtion sensor. The PRO development tools are coming in February.

It all sounds kind of lofty, given that Asus is primarily a hardware company, but if all goes to plan on the software front, Asus could be the the first company to create a market for the creativity of Kinect hackers. We’ve seen some pretty impressive tech demos from hobbyists, so I can only imagine what would come from financial incentives in the form of an app marketplace.

PrimeSense will have the whole setup on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. I plan to check it out.

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Will ThriXXX Create Kinect's First Windows 7 Game? Let's Hope Not

Once the Kinect hacks started flowing, interactive porn was bound to happen.

And so we have ThriXXX claiming the first working demo of motion-controlled groping. The company plans to make Kinect compatible with all of its sex games — “Fetish 3D” and “3D SexVilla” among them — next year. A tech demo, uploaded to YouTube is already flagged as inappropriate.

Obviously, ThriXXX’s games won’t be available on Xbox 360. They’re strictly for Windows, which means ThriXXX could potentially release the first commercial use of Kinect in a PC game. I really hope that doesn’t happen.

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Yep, Kinect is the New Wii, Pitfalls and All

If there was any doubt that Kinect is a smash-hit, Microsoft erased it with official sales figures: In 25 days, the company sold 2.5 million units. As ReadWriteWeb notes, Kinect is being adopted faster than the iPad.

In essence, Kinect has become the new Wii, the hot gaming toy on top of many holiday wishlists. If Microsoft can keep it up, Kinect could keep the Xbox 360 alive for at least another couple of years.

But following the arc of the Wii is as dangerous as it is lucrative. Indeed, the news of Kinect’s soaring sales pairs nicely with Ben Fritz’s look at the declining Wii in the Los Angeles Times. He notes that stereotypical non-gamers — the same folks Microsoft is targeting — eventually lost interest in the Wii and didn’t buy enough software, and now monthly hardware sales are behind the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Major publishers eventually soured on the console as well. Now that Microsoft has proven that people want Kinect, its challenge is to keep those customers around.

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Looks Like Kinect Got Hacked

The motion-tracking power of Kinect for Xbox 360 could soon be used in PCs or robots, whether Microsoft likes it or not.

A member of the Natural User Interface Group appears to have gained control over Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera. In one YouTube video, the hacker uses a Windows application to tilt the camera up and down. In another, a pair of videos provide feedback from Kinect’s depth and color sensors.

Engadget tracked down the hacker, who goes by “AlexP” in the NUI Group forums. He may not release his work to the public, intending instead to integrate it with CL Studio Live visualization software, but the quick hacking bodes well for other people who want to push Kinect beyond its intended use. There’s certainly an incentive; Adafruit Industries, a seller of do-it-yourself electronics kits, is offering a $2,000 reward to the first person to post open-source Kinect drivers.

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What Kinect and Windows Phone 7 Have in Common

From the Kinect reviews I’ve read so far, there seems to be consensus on one thing: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 motion controller is a neat idea with flawed execution.

Although the technology is undeniably cool — Kinect detects your movement head-to-toe with a camera and responds to voice commands — the software is inconsistent, and unless you’ve got a large living room with even lighting and few no major obstructions, the hardware won’t work perfectly. There’s also a little bit of lag.

Kinect draws a parallel in my mind to Windows Phone 7. Microsoft’s new mobile platform lays a strong foundation — the tile menu is a fresh approach to smartphone interfaces, and the overall feel is like butter — but app selection is a concern, and the OS is held back by missing features and the occasional puzzling design choice.

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Eating Words: Kinect and Move are Looking Like Hits

In the past, I’ve been a skeptic of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the Playstation Move, Microsoft’s and Sony’s respective motion controllers. The prospect of selling the public another Wii, I thought, was hopeless without killer software. So far, it looks like I’m wrong.

Microsoft has raised its sales expectations for Kinect from 3 million to 5 million, Bloomberg reports. That’s based on pre-sales, retail orders and consumer interest for the motion-sensing camera, which launches November 4. To put this in perspective, Microsoft has sold 44.6 million Xbox 360s since the console launched in 2005.

The Playstation Move, a Wii-like wand tracked by a set-top camera, is also doing well so far. The controller officially launched on September 19, and Sony sold 2.5 million of them between the United States and Europe in one month. Lifetime Playstation 3 sales are at 41.6 million.

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Is Kinect for Xbox 360 Sold Out? Don’t Buy That

Sold out products make a company look good, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft is boasting about Kinect for Xbox 360’s supposedly limited availability.

In a press release announcing Kinect’s launch titles, Microsoft says pre-orders for the motion-sensing camera are “rapidly selling out.” Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live, wrote on his blog that “if you have not placed your order yet you may want to take care of that.”

I wouldn’t bother heeding his advice, at least if you live in the United States. Come November 4, I have a feeling you’ll be able to walk into a games retailer, see Kinect for yourself and make an informed decision on whether to buy. No need to rush.

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All of Kinect’s Gotchas in One Video From Microsoft

With almost a month to go until Microsoft launches Kinect for Xbox 360, the company released a video showing how to set up the motion sensing camera, and it’s a doozy.

The rundown is almost four minutes long (watch it at Kotaku) and runs through a list of ideal conditions you must achieve to get the best performance from Kinect. To wit:

  • The camera should be in line with the television, and as close to the top or bottom as possible.
  • You need at least 6 feet between you and the camera, preferably more, and three to four feet on each side.
  • You’ll want to clean up clutter on the floor, so Kinect can get a good reading of the room.
  • Try to have even lighting throughout the room, because dark spots can affect how the camera sees you.
  • Background noise confuses Kinect’s microphones, so you must keep the camera away from speakers and subwoofers, and don’t put it on the Xbox itself.

I’m definitely feeling disqualified after going through these requirements. The coffee table in my living room would definitely have to go, and even then, space is tight. And with no overhead lights (I have high ceilings and use a tall lamp), achieving even lighting could be a problem. At least my floor is tidy.

That said, I’m glad Microsoft released this video. Being honest ahead of time about what Kinect requires is far better than pretending the camera will work anywhere. (For what it’s worth, Sony says the Playstation Move performs fine in poor lighting, but it reportedly works best when you’re eight feet from the camera. The Wii’s instruction manual says to stay at least three feet away from the TV for safety’s sake.)