The New Kinect is Microsoft’s Response to Gamer Demands

New Kinect

Kinect v2 is the new Kinect for Xbox was announced at Microsoft’s recent Build 2014 conference. This one will be available for Windows soon. However, that’s not the only news about Kinect that’s making the rounds right now. Some of this news is pretty surprising considering their past stance regarding the usefulness of Kinect. For example, Microsoft also recently announced that they have a new remote that will almost replace the Kinect.

What is Kinect, You Ask?

Kinect is a sensor that you place on or near your TV that allows you to control video game action, TV volume, and a few other functions of both your Xbox console and your home theater. However, with Kinect, you do all that by either moving your hands and body, or speaking (clearly).

Kinect uses a camera and infrared laser sensors to do all this. The camera gives Kinect facial recognition capabilities, while the infrared sensors pick up body and hand movements. It makes the Xbox somewhat like the first and second generation Wii consoles, without having to hold the wand in your hand. There’s also a voice recognition feature that is supposed to allow the console to recognize each gamer by certain vocal qualities.

The New Kinect v2 for Windows

The new Kinect for Windows looks almost exactly like the Xbox version, with the only differences being the word Kinect is stenciled on the top panel of the device, and the garish “Xbox” logo has been replaced with a more subdued power indicator. What you’ll get when you buy the new Kinect for Windows are the Kinect sensor itself, a USB 3.0 cable to connect it to your computer, and a power supply. The power supply is required because a PC’s USB port is not capable of supplying the power the Kinect needs. Microsoft has stated that this version will start shipping sometime between July and September of this year.

The new Kinect will sport sensors that give it 1080p sensor resolution, meaning you’ll have finer control and the sensor will have better facial recognition capabilities. You won’t need to make “big” gestures to accomplish small actions.

Microsoft Made the Kinect Software Development Kit (SDK) Publicly Available

A software development kit, SDK, is a tool that programmers and designers use to create software applications, like games. Microsoft usually does this for its products, so this really isn’t news. However, what is new is that developers will be able to create apps for Kinect on Windows and publish those games to the Windows Store by themselves. They won’t have to submit the apps to Microsoft and beg them to publish the app. Expect a huge explosion of Kinect apps in the Store by the end of the year because of this.

Surprising News about Kinect Out of Redmond

Xbox gamers may recall that Microsoft has been stating for a while that Kinect is “vital to the complete Xbox and gaming experience” or words to that effect. So, imagine the surprise when the Redmond giant announced that gamers will soon be able to buy the Xbox without the Kinect sensor.

Xbox remote controlOne of the reasons for this is that acceptance wasn’t what Microsoft had been hoping for. Gamers just weren’t flocking to it in droves. Can you blame them? The sensor added in the area of $100 to the cost of the console and games were, lacking in quality. Why spend $499 for something when I can spend less than $400 and get the same quality experience?

Phil Spencer, Microsoft Head of Xbox, on the Xbox blog, recently stated “Hey guys and gals! We’ve been listening to you and now you can buy an Xbox without the Kinect sensor. And hey, if you decide later on that you do want the sensor, soon we’re going to be selling a standalone Kinect sensor.” You’ll still be able to battle it out in “Call of Duty” and Titanfall,” but you just won’t have the motion sensing capability.

Will the New Xbox One Media Remote Replace Kinect?

No — at least not yet, it won’t. You’ll still need the Kinect for the Media Remote to work. That’s pretty funny if you think about it, because when Kinect was introduced it was touted as doing away with physical controller altogether. It was supposed to make remotes obsolete. This is nothing more than Microsoft admitting that Kinect didn’t turn out to be as big as they had hoped. Kinect was touted as the magic “All in One,” except it wasn’t. Once the novelty wore off, most users realized the functionality wasn’t what they really wanted or needed.

Photo Credit: Jung-nam Nam