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Kinecting with Microsoft Kinect

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the Top Tech Inventions Shaping 2010. Number six on that list was Microsoft’s Project Natal for Xbox. Revolutionizing the way video games are played, players need only make use of their arms, legs, feet and hands to control the console. Project Natal, now officially called the Microsoft Kinect, is available for pre-orders on its website for $149 US. It is scheduled to launch worldwide, starting with North America on November 4, 2010.


(image: source)

Entertainment that will get the whole family to Kinect, according to a CNET review “The idea is to integrate Kinect with Microsoft’s entire living room play.”  The Kinect is capable of simultaneously tracking up to six people, including two active players for motion analysis with a feature extraction of 20 joints per player. Users will be able to control Netflix movies and TV shows through their Xbox Live using simple hand gestures and voice commands. With Kinect, you can also video chat with Windows Live Messenger users, and other Xbox 360 users. Twitter, Facebook and Zune applications are also available with the system.

Kinect is compatible with all Xbox 360 consoles. Some of the games available as of now include Dance Central, Joy Ride, a racing game where you control the steering wheel with your hands, and Kinectimals, a game where kids can raise their very own wild animal and take adventures on a magical island. You can even get in shape with Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Workouts are created for you based on your specific fitness level. You take fitness classes designed by famous trainers-to-the-stars. As you exercise, you receive specific feedback on your every move.

(Watch Kinect, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved:)
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How it Works

Kinect uses a 3-D depth camera to capture the movement of your whole body, and goes as precisely as to track joint-motion. Range camera technology, interprets 3D scene information from a continuously-projected infrared pattern. The image sensor reads the light back as code, which is then translated into data that the game console can use.

The one reported drawback of the system is that it is specifically developed to be used standing up. So if you’re snuggled up watching a movie, or want to nestle yourself into the couch to play a video game, gesture control is greatly reduced. Though the Kinect is a great way to get people off their couch, the technology should work as optimally when you’re sitting as it does when you’re standing. This is a feature Microsoft may want to improve on.

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