Kinect is cool to a certain extent. It may be an XBOX gadget but the idea behind it is pretty much there – you dance around and the sensor feeds your movements back to the game. Microsoft essentially aim to produce the most diverse gaming experience possible and it has been very popular with social/casual gamers however it has not been as popular with the more hard core members of the community. Ideally it should have arrived a few years previously before the Wii was launched, and if that had happened Microsoft would easily have an XBOX in 1/3 of homes.
Kinect has been around since last year and so rumors are beginning to emerge about Kinect 2. The new Kinect would be released early next year and would have a dramatically improved sensor – the visible light camera on the current model is 640 by 480 and the infra-red sensor is 320-240. Clearly this will need to be improved before the release of the next model. If it had a higher resolution (and faster chip?) it may be able to pick up facial movements better, potentially allowing for lip reading.
The other thing to talk about with Kinect is a more official event. Microsoft have announced a scheme called ‘The Kinect Accelerator’. They plan to sponsor ten start-ups with $20,000 and office space to come up with a viable business use of Kinect, including everything from XBOX games to public galleries. The idea is interesting and no doubt it will be successful, but I would doubt that Microsoft will get all their money back.
I hate contributing to rumors on the internet but sheer curiosity has lead me to write this post. As I have said in previous posts I am not a gamer and I don’t pretend to be but it is still interesting all the same. The PlayStation 4 will clearly happen at some point in the next two-three years and we can imagine that it will be better than its predecessors. The first big rumor is that it will be a lot more eco-friendly than other consoles and older versions to give Sony a better environment rating. The device will be made of eco-friendly materials and draw a lot less power.
The obvious things like processor, RAM and hard disk will probably be improved and the console will definitely be made thinner because it was a dramatic improved (I am told) to the PS3 when it got thinner. I would throw out that the device may not have a disk drive which would seem a shame but it would make it cheaper and would also allow Sony to properly develop a marketplace for games so that they can be solid over the internet and downloaded onto the device which will probably be a move taken by many consoles/platforms over the next few years.
A lot of gamers (apparently) are jealous of the XBOX 360′s Kinect and they hope that Sony will develop something similar. It probably won’t because they have a thing about buttons. The controller might change a bit but it wouldn’t be in Sony’s interest to do so. It does seem on the internet that the main concern at the moment is just whether it has an eight core processor but Sony’s big worry is price. Amazon tells me I can get a brand new XBOX 360 for $179.99, a Wii with Mario Kart for $170 and a PS3 for $250+. The reason that the Wii and XBOX are priced lower is because they are trying to appeal to the entire family with more varied games whereas the PS3 is increasingly becoming the home of the FPS and racing games. The PS4 will have to drop the price without sacrificing features.
Microsoft has just released the official beta of the Kinect SDK for Windows 7. According to the website this SDK will work with all Windows 7 Dual-core computers (above a minimum system requirements, and requiring the Kinect sensor, obviously) and will allow for native and .Net coding using C++, C# or Visual Basic.
According to the Getting Started guide the SDK will enable developers to use the full potential of Kinect to build applications that take advantage of skeletal tracking with two people, audio recognition and a whole batch of Native and .Net APIs that allow for all sorts of cool features. The website is full of a lot of content about NUIs – Natural User Interfaces – that are designed for users to able to wave their arms around to use.
It does look like the SDK is quite cool and I am sure that in the next few weeks, if not days, there will be all sorts of fascinating applications emerging. It is no surprise that Microsoft has released the SDK, but I am glad that their website was always telling the truth: it was coming Spring 2011.