Kinect: An Obituary

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Goodnight sweet prince

Today saw the release of the Xbox One’s new software update and it introduces a number of improvements including being the fastest iteration of the dash, Windows 10 integration, “backwards compatibility” (even though it isn’t actually backwards compatibility but emulation) and a new guide.

Sounds great so far!

But there is  a hidden sadness to the news; Microsoft announced in an interview with Windows Central that the number of people using gesture control on the dash was “very, very small” and from today on they will be removed from the software. This marks another nail in the peripheral’s coffin and puts an end on our Minority Report dreams of floating computers.

And I for one am sad about this; not because the Kinect was ever very good, but because the potential for it to be great is easily apparent and it was wasted due to mismanagement by Microsoft and a; not altogether unreasonable backlash from gamers. For a technical stand point the device was an amazing feat, it tracks 20 joints on your body 30 times a second, it’s amazing.

As today marks the death of the Kinect I want to remember its positives and give it a send off worthy of the fastest selling electronic device ever.

When Microsoft unveiled their motion control sensor in 2009, the gaming world lost its collective mind. The Project Natal looked amazing.

It recognised the player as they walked past, it could scan your stuff and put it in-game, the gesture control looked utterly amazing, Milo & Kate looked revolutionary (even if it was smoke and mirrors) and if you ever wondered what your avatar’s foot sole looked like you could use it and “BOOM, there it is!”

While there is no doubt that it didn’t live up to these lofty heights promised, the Kinect wasn’t the complete waste of time the IGN or YouTube comment section would have you believe. The most fun I have had on my 360 is undoubtedly the countless times I played Dance Central with MrsLuvva, MrJohnSherry or the countless others I got to bust a groove in front of the TV.

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make sure you mimic the dancers exactly or you’ll lose points! DC was hard as hell but absolutely brilliant!

Harmonix single-handedly proved that the motion control concept was a sound one and furthermore, they proved that when programmed for correctly it could offer a remarkable gaming experience. The Kinect never missed a beat, it never lost a player and further more it actively tracked player limbs and would alert you to where you are going wrong – is it your left arm? It will tell you! This was genuinely something you could not get anywhere else and it was incredible.

Plus the soundtracks were great – I don’t care what anyone says, this game series was stellar! And the good times didn’t stop with this one franchise, oh no, the Kinect also had a proper ace up its sleeve. Fitness.

I’ve used my Kinect camera for fitness “games” more than I have anything else. I run, not as much as I should, but its an activity I do as often as I can. Being from Ireland however means that my running is held to ransom by our unpredictable and terrible weather. When the Winter comes I don’t go to a gym, instead I go to my 360 and Nike+ Kinect. And although it’s unorthodox it has worked! My fitness level actually increases during these months and my running distances never diminish (as long as I am motivated to play of course).

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Not lunges!!! ARHHHHHHHH

The key to this “game’s” success is the fact that it tracks absolutely everything you do, much like Dance Central, if your form is even slightly off then it will tell you exactly how to fix or improve it. Yes it loses you sometimes (rarely for me) when you are doing floor exercises but it really is remarkable. Even this year I’ve started using it again, and I’ll keep doing it until it no longer functions.

Fitness was something that Microsoft could have really hammered home, it was a market rife for the plundering. The reason they didn’t sing it from the rooftops is because they were frightened in case they pissed off the vocal minority of “hardcore gaming” idiots who pissed on the peripheral at every given opportunity – even when it’s something it does well. Like hacking.

The hacking community has really taken to the Kinect in wonderful ways. It is easy to forget that it is a 3D camera and that is incredibly useful in robotics, check out this drone with obstacle avoidance;

It is also remarkable in its own right as a 3D video recorder;

Or making you the predator;

So as Microsoft lays its most successful peripheral into the ground, take a moment and think of how remarkable it was. Forget the terrible games (of which there are many). Remember the version that was R&D gold, the version that had a processor, the version that should have been. Kinect was neutered before release and was more than was made of it.

Kinect, I know I’m alone in this, but I’ll miss you. Goodnight sweet Prince!

Did you buy a Kinect?

Did you use it or was it merely a TV decoration?

Will you miss it or are you glad it’s gone?

Tell me in the comments.

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