What is Microsoft’s Kinect motion-controlled device?

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Microsoft’s powerful Kinect controller is a fascinating piece of technology, but not quite the game playing device we had hoped for.

To understand where the Kinect came from, you first need to study the rise of motion-controlled gaming. When the Nintendo Wii launched in 2007, it took the world by storm. Nintendo struck gold with its take on motion-based gaming, where you could hold a Wii remote and move it in various directions to control the on-screen action. It achieved huge mainstream success and helped the Wii console sell over 100 million units during its lifetime.

Seeing the demand, Sony followed in 2010 with the PlayStation Move, a far more accurate controller than the Wii remote that used the PlayStation Eye camera to improve tracking. Unfortunately, it was predominantly used for the same kind of gameplay experiences as the Wii Remote. Those styles of games didn’t get the same traction with the PlayStation audience. The PlayStation Move was also still required to be held in the player’s hands.

Meanwhile, Microsoft took a different approach to joining the motion-based gaming phenomenon. Kinect, also released in 2010, turns your body into a controller. You don’t hold any peripheral at all.

Kinect uses advanced infrared scanning to map your body’s position and then read your actions. So to jump in the game, you literally jump in the real world. You could swat or grab at things with your hands, duck and weave, and more. In addition, the Kinect camera had a microphone and could be used for voice commands, while the camera also had the ability to take photos and record video for sharing with your networks.

Kinect was well received, but never fully utilised by developers to create compelling gameplay. The delay in reading your movements and lacklustre visual output, combined with the requirements of perfect lighting in the user’s room and the need for a large area of free space saw consumers baulk at picking it up in large numbers. It did, however, gain traction in other non-gaming fields such as medical, engineering and robotics.

Ultimately 130 games were released with Kinect support on the Xbox 360, and 52 games on Xbox One currently have Kinect support.

What is Kinect 2.0 for Xbox One?

For the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft bundled a new and improved version of Kinect with the console called Kinect 2.0. Microsoft would later remove the need to have a Kinect device to play the console, but the initial intent was to have a Kinect alongside every Xbox One in the world to raise the install base and, in turn, drive a greater investment from developers in the product. While developers have not adopted the technology’s motion-based capabilities en masse, its use as a facilitator of voice-commands has been well-received.

Kinect 2.0 was a far better device than its predecessor and worked out a lot of the nagging issues. Namely, it featured far better and faster tracking including the ability to pick out individual fingers, a wider field of view (requiring less space to be used), improved low-light performance, the ability to read the player’s heartbeat, the ability to track six people at once and also high-definition output. Despite this, the lack of compelling software means that Kinect is a curiosity, rather than a must own peripheral, and something for those who want to experiment with new and unique tech.

The Best Kinect Only Games for Xbox 360

TitleBest price
Fantasia: Music EvolvedCurrently n/a
Dance Central 3Shop now
Sesame Street: Once Upon a MonsterShop now
Forza Motorsport 4Shop now
Child of EdenShop now
Virtua Tennis 4Currently n/a
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part ICurrently n/a
Kinect Nat Geo TVShop now
KinectimalsShop now
The GunstringerShop now
Just Dance 4Shop now
Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012Shop now
Kinect Disneyland AdventuresShop now
Kinect SportsShop now
Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar AdventureShop now
Fantastic PetsCurrently n/a
Marvel Avengers: Battle for EarthCurrently n/a
Fable: The JourneyShop now
Kinect AdventuresCurrently n/a
Raving Rabbids: Alive & KickingCurrently n/a
Kinect Star WarsShop now
Rise of NightmaresShop now
Kinect Joy RideShop now
Yoostar 2Shop now
Dragon Ball Z for KinectShop now

Brodie Fogg

Brodie is the Assistant Publisher at finder.com.au for everything tech and telco. When he's not drooling over the latest comic book releases or grinding away at the newest time-devouring RPG, he's helping people choose between Australia's streaming services, suggesting better broadband plans or comparing the latest mobile plans.

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