Why Xbox 360 and Kinect Are the Future of Gaming and Home Entertainment
It’s been a year since Microsoft announced its revolutionary technology, Kinect (the then so-called Project Natal) and in November 4th, this revolution is going to hit the global market. But is it or is it not worth the wait? Well, to answer that, you may have to look at what Kinect is capable of and what it lacks.
Microsoft announced Kinect as a motion sensor to rival Nintendo’s Wii as well as Sony’s Move for its PlayStation console. With that being said, Microsoft will have to offer gamers what Sony and Nintendo cannot otherwise all its revolutionary sensor will do is simply sit on market shelves. So, let’s check out what Kinect can offer. For your information, Nintendo has received an incredible number of sales for their Wii so far.
To start it off, Kinect comes with anRGBcamera that supports a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels running at 32-bit color depth at 30 FPS. Thanks to this camera, face recognition is going to be a piece of cake for the Kinect system. In addition to that, this new revolutionary device also comes with 2 depth sensors. These sensors function to combine an infrared projector so that it is possible for Kinect to view the space in a 3D perspective even under various lighting conditions. However, darker rooms seem to work better. As a matter of fact, when tested in near pitch-black lighting condition, the sensor shows better tracking result. Unfortunately, under such lighting condition, theRGBcamera can virtually see nothing.
Apart from the camera and sensors, there are 4 microphones built into Kinect. You will definitely wonder what these many microphones are for. Well, not only will they try to listen to what you say, they will also try to predict from what part of the 3D space the voice is coming. That way, they can reduce background noise and not accidentally mistake it for your voice command.
Then, what really plays the vital role is what Microsoft calls the “special sauce” which is the software part that takes all the information captured by the camera, sensors and microphones and parses it in order to recognize user’s face and voice. The good thing about the software is that it only uses 60 out of 512 MB total memory available on the Xbox 360 system for this parsing purpose.
Before you can use Microsoft’s revolutionary full body and motion sensing technology, you will have to set it up first. You are lucky enough if you have the new Xbox 360 model. All you have to do is simply plug your Kinect into its dedicated port on the back of the new Xbox 360 model. The port is located just above the Ethernet cable.
However, don’t be so sad if what you have is the original Xbox 360 model. You can still plug in your Kinect for sure. You can plug an extendedUSBinput into the back port of the console and then plug your Kinect into the extendedUSBinput. Yet, if you have a Wi-Fi dongle, Microsoft recommends that you use the bundledUSBextender and move your Wi-Fi dongle to one of the 2 ports available on the front part of your Xbox console.
When you are done plugging in your Kinect, setting it up won’t be too hard. You simply need to follow the instructions that appear on your TV screen. For the best result, you need to stand at least6 feet– Microsoft recommends 6 to8 feet– away from the sensor. Also, there cannot be anything between you and the sensor. Unfortunately, this may sometimes become a problem for those that do not have too many spaces in the room where the Kinect is.
With Kinect set up, anytime you power on your Xbox 360 console, Kinect will try to make use of its motorized vertical tilt in order to detect human life and frame you as much as possible. Yet, if it is your very first time using the revolutionary full body and motion sensor device, you will have to calibrate the audio. And, even though it will only take a few minutes, you may want to take a longer time calibrating the audio. That way, the sensor will be better able to differentiate between your voice and the noise in the background.
Kinect comes bundled with several games which are the Kinect Adventures (something similar to Nintendo’s Wii Sports Resorts but not necessarily the same), Kinect Sports (think the Wii Sports), Kinectimals, Kinect Joy Ride, Your Shape and Dance Central.
Kinect is often advertised with this motto, “You are the controller.” So, with the bundled titles, Microsoft expects to give Kinect users a taste of how it feels to be the controller. Take the Kinect Adventures, for an example, in which body movement and gestures are crucial. The same goes for all the other bundled titles.
However, the best is the Dance Central from the Rock Band developers at Harmonix. In Dance Central, you can choose a menu just by swiping your hand and it works incredibly fast. It seems that the Dance Central is the best of all those bundled titles to represent what Kinect is actually capable of.
However, today, Xbox 360 and Kinect are not all about games but also home entertainment system. Today, it is possible to watch live TV, search the internet withBing, video chat and a lot more with the Xbox console and Kinect together. To tell the truth, video chat is pretty amazing with the camera following you when you move around the room.
The next thing that Kinect can wonderfully do is to bring non-living things into the game world and animate them as if they are alive. In addition to that, there is also the Bobble Head or “Kinect Me” that will bring you right into the game world. Better yet, there is now a finger tracking technology built into Kinect that will add to the fun you can have. These are all possible thanks to the Kinect Fun Labs.
However, there are still rooms for perfection for Xbox and Kinect. For example, there is lagging in some game titles that utilize Kinect. Plus, it is sometimes quite tiring to hover your hands on the air for several minutes just to choose some menus. But you won’t have to worry as Microsoft has promised that they will make things better soon after launch.
Anyway, compared to Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s Move that both use a remote controller for motion sensing, Kinect is one step ahead. Besides, both Wii and Move don’t support voice command yet and that makes Kinect two step ahead.