Introduced at E3 in 2009 under the codename Project Natal, Microsoft’s proprietary motion-sensing controller Kinect promised us a bright future indeed. Having to laboriously type something with the Xbox controller was about to become a thing of the past. However, a few days ago, Microsoft’s Kinect division finally decided to stop producing Kinect sensors for PC. With this decision, we have lost a great potential for highly embarrassing videos that Microsoft treated us to at every E3.
A Brief History Of Humiliation
It all started in 2009, when we were tantalized with pictures of smiling families playing awesome Xbox video games without controllers and the tangled mess of wires that usually accompanies them. Look, the family is having fun and that’s all that matters, right? Well… sort of.
Kinect worked by identifying and memorizing faces, allowing it to recognize who was giving commands and what those commands were. This meant a group of people could join in and control the video game characters simultaneously or take turns without any interruptions. Voice commands could also be given to Kinect… or at least that was the idea behind it.
In reality, the Kinect motion tracking technology was simply subpar and couldn’t consistently recognize and process any human movement other than the broadest of strokes. Which means that you had to be playing Kinect standing up for it to have the best possible accuracy. Try to enjoy anything while standing up for more than 5 minutes and see how that turns out.
This crucial flaw was marketed as an awesome feature that would let you exercise while playing your favorite Xbox games. Are you addicted to cardio? Do you love video games? With Kinect, you can do both at the same time! Except not really. If someone were to spot you flailing your arms and legs around in front of Kinect like you’re fighting off a swarm of angry bees, there would simply be no excuse strong enough to preserve your dignity.
Facial recognition was the only part of the Kinect that actually worked. Body motion commands proved to be completely impractical and awfully strenuous. In fact, all the trailers and demos for Kinect games were pre-recorded, with the “player” simply mimicking what the game does, which made for what were simultaneously some of the funniest and saddest videos ever created. But the fatal blow to Kinect was delivered at 2013’s E3 conference.
That was when Xbox One was announced, and with it, a complementary set of hardcore DRM measures and a Kinect sensor that would come with each console. The Xbox One Kinect sensor could not be turned off and would monitor the room 24/7, which prompted everyone to dust off their copies of 1984 and quote the part about the telescreens. On the other hand, Sony’s Jack Tretton appeared on stage and forever buried Microsoft’s XboxOne alongside Kinect in just two minutes.
While Kinect for PC is now officially discontinued, the Internet will remember it forever.