I don’t usually review gaming console attachments but I think Kinect has big potential in the UC space and in conjunction with Lync has a long future beyond gaming. I have had a Kinect about three weeks now and it is an exciting product for a number of reasons. Besides from playing the initial launch games I have had a chance to tryout the current video offering with Live Messenger which has some interesting features.
First and foremost for now the Kinect is a gaming console attachment. The marketing line “You are the controller” is precisely what it is. Although the ability to control the console outside the bound of the Kinect Hub is limited, both the voice and movement controls work fairly well. What I like is that I don’t have to go looking for a controller once I am in there. I can just put it down and forget about it.
The games so far are more aimed at the casual gamer. The best title around at the moment is Dance Central. It really is a lot of fun and surprisingly very accurate for scoring your moves. Obviously as you go from easy to hard settings you need to be more precise with your moves but it is never so picky that it takes away from the fun of the game. If you’re a spectator watching someone else play its easy just to watch the screen and miss what the person playing is doing, which is way more entertaining than the screen. Having held our first Kinect neighborhood block party last weekend Dance Central got the big thumbs up among the 10 adults that played it. 2 people at the party went out the next day to get a Kinect just for Dance Central.
I have managed to try a fair swag of the available titles and to be honest some won’t hold you attention very long if your older than 12. One of the most underrated games though is Fighters Uncaged. I really like this game but it does have some feature limitations around multiplayer capability. There is none. It can get a little repetitive having to fight the same fighters but it’s a great workout and still a lot of fun. Not great for a party as it gets boring for everyone watching pretty quick but great for the one person duke outs.
Kinect Video is really pretty cool. I like the ability for the platform to automatically zoom out as more people come into the picture. It’s a great extension that has a lot of potential applications for organizations trying to better interact with consumers. To me, its inexpensive innovations like this that will really take video to the next level by embedding it into your life style. Combine that with the ability to reach into the enterprise and its taking video on a new level.
There is already a lot of speculation around on the internet about the use of Kinect with Windows and some developers have already started down that path without Microsoft. Microsoft purposefully left the USB interface to Kinect open so that developers could see what they could do and there are a couple of simple demos out there of people that have already started doing some simple stuff and developing drivers for Windows 7.
Lync interoperability was demoed at the Lync World Wide Launch but as yet there is no date for the Xbox upgrade that will allow it. I expect it to be pretty soon. Although the idea of having Kinect video through Xbox to Lync is very cool, I think native integration to Windows and having Kinect as a video endpoint (similar to a webcam) for Lync is much more interesting. Things like automatic video adjustment of how many people in the room, voice control of Lync, automatic face recognition etc. Once the drivers are more commonly available for Windows I am sure this will follow and it’s a great opportunity for partners to do some really cool integration and development.
This is an important piece of technology that takes a complex, once expensive piece of hardware and brings it to the masses. Although the hardcore gaming fans are probably not that impressed yet with the game titles available I think that will change. As the more hardcore titles appear I think the real potential of the gaming platform will be unlocked and Kinect will be the motion based controller to beat, if its not already. On the UC front we have only seen a glimpse what Kinect can do with Live and Lync video interoperability. The bigger and grander UC vision for Kinect will only be limited by the developers working on the platform once the drivers for Windows are available.
Other content on Kinect
Kinect for Xbox 360 versus Cisco Umi