In a recent interview with MCV at Gamescom, Robin Burrowes, Marketing Manager for Xbox Live EMEA, calmly announced that Kinect will not boast voice control functionality when it goes on sale later this year. When will it appear? That wasn't quite clear either -- "[Microsoft] will be announcing when voice control will be turned on in due course”.
This, of course, was a bit of a blow. Microsoft has been having a hard time promoting Kinect, as every day there seems to be another news item that either proves or disqualifies certain features that it promises. It was initially reported that Kinect was having trouble recognizing seated players, a feature that is now working well. Whilst that was a case of improvement, it was another story for deaf gamers. We initially reported on a patent that would allow deaf players to sign to their Kinect, a feature that was then denied by Microsoft.
Thankfully, this voice control situation was also a case of improvement for the motion control device. Soon after Burrowes' comments were posted online, Microsoft issued a Press Release stating that Kinect would allow for voice control at launch, but they seemingly held back on mentioning any specific languages:
"Voice control is an exciting part of the 'Kinect for Xbox 360' controller-free experience and we can confirm that it will be available at launch in November 2010.
Only on Xbox 360 will you be able to navigate the Kinect Hub using your voice to control your movies, TV Shows and music. We do not have additional details to share about local voice availability at this time."
It's interesting to see that Microsoft do not have anything further to mention about local voice availability. Could this be possible confirmation that Kinect will only understand the English language at launch, with other languages to follow? It would mean that Burrowes wasn't exactly wrong, just that he misspoke. If you're reading Game Rant, I would assume that you have a firm grasp of the English language, but it would be a shame if any foreign relatives couldn't get in on the voice control fun.
Personally, I'm thankful that Kinect will allow for voice control functionality at launch. Although I'm still dubious as to whether I'll be purchasing the peripheral for myself -- I still can't get over the £130 / $150 price tag -- it would be a great shame to see the device fall flat, simply because it promised so much and failed to deliver. Thankfully, now that voice control is confirmed to be included, I can't wait to buy the Michael Jackson Dance Central spin-off, in which you have to dance and sing at the same time. "Xbox. Billy Jean. Play. Wooh!"
If that ever gets announced, you heard it here first, folks.
So how about you, readers? Are you excited for the Kinect? What do you think about the opportunities available with Voice Control? Let us know in the comments below.
Kinect is due to launch November 4th, 2010 exclusive to the Xbox 360.
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