Easily the more impressive element of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal yesterday morning was the demo of the console’s new Kinect functionality. No longer will the Kinect be some imprecise, pared down tech that barely functions, but rather this new version will be more accurate, fully-featured, and useful. Oh, and it will also be much larger.
While Microsoft’s presentation was primarily focused on the basics of this new Kinect — Kinect 2.0, if you will — a behind-closed-doors press demo further highlighted the device’s capabilities. And while it’s little more than a promise at this point, what Microsoft showed should get gamers excited.
For starters, Kinect will be capable of capturing an image in 1080p Full HD detail. That means the device can register minute details like the wrinkles in a player’s shirt, or even facial expressions. The camera can also more accurately register player movements — the rotation of limbs, quick punches, or subtle gestures like moving fingers.
The Kinect also has a wider field of view, meaning the device can support smaller play spaces. Microsoft wouldn’t give any specific details in regards to optimal distance, but if it can run efficiently in an average apartment that would be a big step in the right direction.
In addition to improving on the basics of Kinect, Microsoft is also adding a few features that, while not requested, could help improve a player’s experience nonetheless. Microsoft claims the device can register any player based on their face to determine which individual is holding which controller. So, for example, if two players traded controllers, Kinect and Xbox One would switch the profiles associated with those controllers.
This feature even goes a step further, by automatically switching a player’s field of view based on where they are sitting or standing. Kinect will recognize that the person holding controller 2 is actually on the left side of the screen, and will split the screen so the second player’s screen is also on the left. In other words, two players won’t have to look diagonally at their screen while playing Call of Duty: Ghosts, and they won’t have to frantically switch positions on the couch.
But wait, there’s more. Kinect can also read movements in the dark, which eliminates the need for optimal lighting. Kinect can take a player’s heartbeat based on their facial coloration (we’re not so sure about this one either). And Kinect can identify your voice amidst 7.1 speakers’ worth of explosions, gunfire, and NPC yelling.
Like it or not, Kinect is still very much part of Microsoft’s plan, so much so that they are requiring it for Xbox One operation. That being said, the publisher is taking steps towards making the device more functional and useful. There’s a lot of claims being thrown around, and not necessarily a lot of definitive proof to support them, but (on paper) it sounds like Kinect 2.0 will be an improvement over its predecessor.
What do you think of Kinect 2.0? Can you see yourself benefiting from the device, or will you still never use it?