Monday, November 8, 2010


It took me a whole two days after launch to finally get it, but I now not only have a Kinect but my first Xbox console.  After playing an evening with my husband, my brother and his friends, then again last night, I have to rate it very highly.

We played Kinect Adventures, which came bundled with the console and Kinect sensor.  It was really easy to get started with the obvious controls, and thanks to the competitive nature of our guests, we had fun playing the same level many, many times.  Our only issue was that we had barely enough space.  The taller folks of the group definitely hit their head a few times on the heavy metal chandelier.  (The image below gives you a pretty good idea of what looked like, except that we only had room for one player at a time.)

E3 2010 Xbox 360 Kinect demo booth
Credit: E3 2010 Xbox 360 Kinect demo booth /

I got Kinect largely because I see potential for some augmented reality games that I could work on for my thesis.  There's clearly a camera in there based on the photos Kinect took of us while we played Kinect Adventures, but how good it is remains to be seen.  I'm guessing the photos taken in this game are purposely low-res so they don't clog up the storage space.  Some demos show people video chatting and such, and the picture looked a lot better for those images.  After I learn XNA for Imagine Cup this year, I definitely want to look into how one can go about developing for Kinect.

The sensor itself is actually quite incredible.  As the video below shows, it throws out a bunch of little IR dots into the room and uses these to measure the full body positions of players.  The great thing about this technique is that it seems to work remarkably well in low light.  Not only were we able to play games with just one small lamp on in the corner of the room, but after calibration, Kinect ID was able to tell exactly who was standing in front of the sensor every time! Whether they do their face recognition with the IR sensors or with the cameras, I'm impressed and optimistic about the aforementioned possibilities for AR.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kinds of Kinect games come out over the next while.  The current offerings are all fairly similar - dancing, jumping and ducking, and fitness.  Some have criticized that these are probably the only kinds of games that would even work well with Kinect anyway, but I disagree specifically because I don't feel an entire game has to be played via body movement.  Instead, the main mechanics can still be controller-based with various occasions to use Kinect instead.  Some games could require Kinect, and for others it could be a bonus alternative way of completing certain tasks.


Kate said...

Glad you like it Gail! I was in the Beta and really enjoyed playing it, especially Adventures - the log platform one is my favorite. :D

Angelica said...

The sensor is great eh! I wonder what would happen if you tried playing it outdoors (not that it's a common use case :D) -- I think they're using Time of Flight technology, and although it's great in dark situations, it theoretically should get thrown off in bright light? Anyway looks really fun!

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