The future of the Kinect: not for everyone, but still in the game

The future of the Kinect

The only notable announcement involving the Kinect at E3 was about Cortana coming to the Xbox One. Even in that announcement, there was nothing said similar to “and this great feature bringing Microsoft’s digital assistant to your Xbox One is made possible by the Kinect which has been accepting voice commands since the console’s inception.” In fact, the media had to do digging to even get Microsoft to confirm that the Kinect was required for Cortana voice integration.

The almost complete absence of the Kinect at E3 does not however mean that it does not have a future in gaming and elsewhere. Polygon reports that Shannon Loftis, the general manager of global games publishing for Microsoft, said there are unannounced games currently in development for Kinect at Microsoft. Shannon also pointed out that the Kinect is coming to Windows 10.

With Windows 10 working with the Kinect, and with a continued presence with Xbox, where is Kinect headed?

Gaming:

Kinect kids gaming

Even though the Kinect is not currently involved in making hard core gaming better, it has a place in gaming. Its integration with Cortana brings greater control to the Xbox which makes navigating the console better. Also, there is a category of games that does benefit from the Kinect. Motion based games may not bring in the money that Halo 5: Guardians will but having a variety of games sells the Xbox One with Kinect as a console for families and a wide demographic range.

Also, the games that Shannon Loftis mentioned weren’t specified so we’re not sure how the Kinect will integrate with gaming in the future. Microsoft could be working on any number of ways to use the Kinect with games.

Entertainment:

Xbox One Smart Guide

Aiding the ability to sell the Xbox One as an entertainment system is the ability to voice control your media and entertainment in your home. The Xbox One was originally sold as a home entertainment system and while Microsoft has turned to a heavy emphasis on gaming since the Xbox One was launched three years ago, and at this year’s E3, they have also continued to bring improvements to the Xbox One as an all in one entertainment console. Sling TVdigital TV Tuners, cable integration, and the Smart Guide all make the Xbox One more able to replace other devices in your home. There are also rumors that the Xbox One may act as a full DVR in the future. While these features don’t require a Kinect, the ability to control them easily with your voice through a Kinect keeps it relevant and useful to the console as an entertainment box.

Healthcare and fitness:

While the Xbox One is a powerful gaming console, it is also a fairly easy piece of equipment to use. As such, medical professionals use the Kinect and the Xbox One to help patients rehab after surgeries. ZDNet has spoken on both the Kinect’s ability to help with rehab and how it can help out in the operating room.The Kinect’s skeletal tracking allows patients to receive feedback on how well they are performing different exercises.

The Kinect’s sensors allow it to track people’s skeletal movements and heart rate when they do exercise program such as P90X, Insanity and more as part of Xbox Fitness.

Scientific research:

Xbox One Hand

The Kinect is also able to work separately from the Xbox One. Its wide variety of sensors allow it to aid in research and scientific projects. The Kinect system is being worked on to track hand and finger movements that someday may be able to control robotic hands. It also has the potential to interpret American Sign Language. The medical and scientific fields can use the Kinect for research and communication.

Windows 10:

As pointed out by Shannon Loftis, the Kinect is coming to Windows 10. We don’t have a lot of details for its role within Microsoft’s new operating system but there are a wide range of possibilities.

The sad part about the Kinect is that it may always be attached to the Xbox One in people’s minds. Its negative impact on sales and perceived lack of usefulness could always attach a negative stigma to an otherwise impressive piece of hardware. That being said, the Kinect isn’t going anywhere. It’s being used in a variety of fields and still has a role in gaming.

While many hardcore gamers may find the upcoming Elite Wireless Controller as a better expenditure of $150, there are other users that would prefer the Kinect. The Xbox One was originally touted as a home entertainment system and it continues to be a strong contender in that area. Its voice control of media and family friendly motion capture games help make the Xbox One a system that a wide variety of ages can enjoy. When you add on the fact that the Kinect can be used for healthcare, fitness, communication, and can be used with Windows 10 it’s easy to see why Microsoft isn’t abandoning the Kinect, even if it is being shifted away from events like E3.

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