While they are missing out on potential of holiday money with its launch time period, Microsoft has announced they are expanding the availability of their Kinect peripheral, which will be available for Windows boxes in the early months of 2012. Will PC gamers embrace the new control device? Probably not, especially the hardcore gamers out there who live in universes created by Bioware, Dice, or Infinity Ward; but can it attract the casual gamer, the same type of consumer who made the iPhone a viable gaming device?
Forecasting is not an exact science, but the possibility certainly exists. Thanks to both hardware and firmware adjustments, Microsoft didn’t have to reinvent the device for the PC environment. Instead, they simply adapted the 360 model to make it work in a Windows environment. The company offers a description of these alterations for in the post discussing the Kinect for Windows:
Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.
It should be noted the gaming community is not necessarily the one being courted by Microsoft with the Kinect update. Instead, it seems as if they are viewing it as more of an input device instead of a gaming peripheral. The following statement reveals as much:
We’ve been captivated by the countless creative ways companies worldwide envision how their businesses and industries can be revolutionized with Kinect, and are proud to be helping those companies to explore the profound implications NUI [Natural User Interface] has for the future.
So yeah, I guess we won’t be seeing Kinect Sports for Windows in the near future. In fact, the gaming community doesn’t even warrant a mention in Microsoft’s announcement post. Microsoft did, however, announce their Kinect Accelerator project that, among other things, asks third-party developers to create any of the following:
- Any Kinect-enabled application on Windows or Xbox that can be a commercial business
- Manufacturing to retail, education to healthcare, art installations to gaming, social to interactive play…hmmm, the possibilities
- Can be cloud-hosted, on any platform, but needs to be an application
- Could be one view of an application that may also have a web UI, mobile UI, etc
- Kinect-controlled applications, like what you have on your phone, but on a big screen or a computer screen
- Content you might expect to consume in your living room or in an operating room
For those who are completely baffled by what a Kinect is, watch this:
And then, think of any applications you can design around it, apps that will improve how users interface with their home computer.