5 Ways The Kinect Can Improve

Kinect, Microsoft’s controller-free Xbox 360 motion and voice sensor, is entrancing gamers with its circa-2006 Wii-style magic spell, but not everyone is impressed.

Stephen at Kotaku is intrigued with its possibilities but feels it falls short in several ways. He offers up five suggestions for Microsoft and Xbox 360 game publishers to make the device more effective.

His tips:

*Expand gesture controls across the Xbox 360 interface, including apps such as Netflix and Facebook.

*Provide an option to sense just one user’s voice rather than everyone’s.

*Make games that use voice commands as more than just a throwaway gimmick.

*Create more universal gestures that let you do more than just pause the game, such as skip cut scenes.

*Before games start, show the boundaries of how much living room space we’ve got to work with.

I’ve also been playing around with the Kinect and agree with all of Stephen’s points. I’d also like to be able to turn the Xbox 360 on and off with voice commands. A time rewinding/TV repair function would also be nice.

What improvements would you like to see in the Kinect?

5 Things Microsoft Needs To Do To Improve Kinect [Kotaku]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MonkeyMonk says:

    Release some good games that don’t feel like mini-game collections.

    Seriously underwhelmed by the Kinect. I used to think of the 360 as the most adult-oriented console but in MS’s rush to chase Nintendo I fear they’re just going to alienate their main user base. The Wii already has this market dominated. Why try to copy it with (IMO) an inferior and more expensive product?

    • full.tang.halo says:

      To think that Kinect is gonna alienate the FPS crowd is laughable, Halo Reach’s launch numbers were massive, and COD Black Ops coming out today will be huge too. Players of these games couldn’t care less about Kinect.

      • pop top says:

        Several of my friends and I play FPS and we all went over to a mutual friend’s house last weekend and played the hell out of that adventure game that comes with the Kinect. While I agree with you that this will hardly kill the Kinect or alienate the other fans of the 360, stereotyping gamers is stupid.

      • MonkeyMonk says:

        The existence of the Kinect is going to alienate the core base (or at least I hope it wouldn’t) but I can see them starting to get antsy with Microsoft if it looks like they’re pushing the Kinect at the expense of making hardcore games.

        • andyg8180 says:

          Did you buy a steering wheel for racing games?
          Did you buy guitars and drums?
          Did you buy Lips when they pushed that?
          Did you buy an HDDVD add-on?

          Did you feel alienated when any of those products were being pushed?

        • minjche says:

          According to the Xbox website, there are 662 games rated for the Xbox 360.


          Of those games,
          -37% fall under the “eC”, “E”, and “E10” rating,
          -57% fall under the “T” and “M” rating,
          -6% have rating pending.

          I’m going to make the assumption that “eC”, “E”, and “E10” games are not “hardcore games”.

          That pretty much convinces me that hardcore games are not at all hurt by the mere existance of non-hardcore games, considering Xbox 360 has at least 37% of it’s games (more if you count some of the “T” titles) designed for kids.

          So would you stop it with this baseless FUD?

          • minjche says:

            Epic fail on a typo for me (I even bolded it for your viewing pleasure)


          • MonkeyMonk says:

            My fear would be if next year’s numbers start looking like this:

            65% fall under the “eC”, “E”, and “E10” rating
            35% fall under the “T” and “M” rating

            Again, the mere presence of the Kinect doesn’t bother me at all (other than I wished I liked it more). I’m just worried that Microsoft is switching to a game company that doesn’t really interest me much anymore. A good Kinect game would go along way to making me feel better about this but those launch titles did *nothing* for me.

            • minjche says:

              The Xbox 360 has been out for just shy of 5 years now and that’s how the numbers stack up. I’d venture that the market has had an influence on those numbers (i.e. more Xbox 360 owners want T and M games over eC/E/E10 games).

              If you fear that one year of Kinect will completely reverse the title breakdown, well then there’s not much for us to discuss here other than that you’re afraid of something.

              Also you’re a bit confusing with how you mention in one comment “The existence of the Kinect is going to alienate the core base …” and then in your next comment say “Again, the mere presence of the Kinect doesn’t bother me at all …”. Are you not part of the core base for which you seem so concerned?

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      After playing with it for a few hours, I have to say that I like it MUCH more than the Wii. The only thing the Wii has going for it are more games – but that’ll come in time. My neighbor’s child has been playing the animal/pet game almost non-stop. She loves it.

      I’m holding off judgment for another year – give time for the Kinect to mature, people to get their ideas out. But I love their sports game more than the Wii’s Resort – the music is better and the games are a lot more fun.

    • minjche says:

      I disagree that the Kinect would alienate any users.

      The “main user base” you refer to has the option to simply not buy the Kinect system or any Kinect games. You’re forgetting the impact of the market. If people don’t like Kinect games, they won’t buy Kinect games, and game developers won’t make Kinect games.

      If Microsoft transitions to encourage all game developers to make their games use Kinect, then that could have a negative impact. The market, however, would stop that long before any damage could be done.

      Your argument is akin to saying 3DTV will alienate current TV owners.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        But he has a point with the expense.

        Quite expensive for such a niche product.

        • minjche says:

          I don’t disagree that it’s expensive, hence why I didn’t make a direct reference to that in my comment.

          If you’re going to put “RTFA” in your username, at least go back and read the first sentence of my comment. It’s a “thesis” of sorts for the rest of it.

    • andyg8180 says:

      Call the whambulance and get this guy some whamburgers and french cries…

      The system just came out… when the wii came out, it was a bunch of mini games. When the 360 came out, it had like 12 games. Can you let the system evolve?

      And when people get together to play wii, what do they play? mini games. Whats the difference? The kinect in no way is a rip off of the wii. For 1, no nunchuck. It’s like saying, “oh windows phone 7 and android are late because iphone is the best”

      If you read your news, kinect is a prelude to windows 8. Think long term instead of only 5 days out of release…

      • El_Fez says:

        The kinect in no way is a rip off of the wii.

        Riiiiight. You just keep telling yourself that.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          I’ll give you that its a rip off. In the same way that the PS3 is a rip-off of the XBox. Or the XBox is a ripoff of the SNES.

          MS took the idea of the Wii (motion-sensitive gaming) and took it to an entirely different level. Yes, the core idea was taken from the Wii, but the implementation is completely different.

        • Dinhilion says:

          It is a completely different experience. With the Wii everyone ended up just flicking your list because that is all you needed to do. With the Kinect you are forced to jump around, spin, duck, and run in place. Allin one game. It is a much more engaging system. This makes the mini-games significantly more fun then anything I have played before. My first love will always be first person shooters and I have logged thousands of hours into halo but, it is still fun.

          My only complaint is that the pointer on the screen lags at about the same rate as the original wiimote.

          Also, as people are mention DANCE CENTRAL is by far on of the most advanced games I have ever seen on any console period. If can tell if yo are performing correctly and it teaches you the moves ahead of time. My girlfriend is a life long studio dancer and she vouches that they are teaching legitimate dance moves. On one level they had her do a jazz pirouette. It is intense.

          Moving things without a remote=awesome. Simple as that. Kinect automatically recognizing you is very very cool.

          Overall I give the add-on a solid B. We need more games and the pointer lags but it is just SO MUCH FUN.

      • minjche says:

        Actually the Wii had 21 launch titles in its North American launch, including my beloved “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess”. I’d say that’s more than “a bunch of mini games”. Granted not all of those 21 were decent games.


      • swanksta says:

        Yeah and this is a peripheral not a system most of these games are more proof of concept and sale, once the sales number come out more developers will commit to spending money to make games for it.

        Your also very right on the long term of this as well. Microsoft also has acquired the company canesta which is the rival to the kinects current chip maker prime sense.

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      Have you played Dance Central? That is a very good game that is definitely not a mini-game collection.

  2. RubiksDude says:

    I agree with some other sites that suggest the Kinect is a long term project. Unlike the Sony Move, Microsoft built their system completely from scratch. It’s still very rough and very early in it’s development. The way the Kinect works has much broader use than either the Wii or Sony Move. The Kinect will drive us towards what we’ve seen in futuristic movies; Controlling and manipulating screens with nothing more than a flick of the wrist.

  3. mikeyz says:

    I played a demo of of “Your Shape: Fitnes Evolved” last night. The ability of the Kinect to see and measure you in 3-dimensional space goes so far beyond the capabilities of any of the Wii fitness games that any comparison is laughable. Gone are the days of having to hold the Wii remote at a specific angle in order to register a toe-touch. The Kinect looked at me and told me that I was 5’11, and that I was standing 8 feet from the sensor. Additionally, it can tell when I walk away and my wife approaches, and replaces the avatar being used. Again, no need to log out and then have someone step on the Wii balance board to verify who you are.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      It does it for other games too. It was really need seeing it switch like that so easily. Although they do need to refine determining who controls the selections – at times I would be the one in the back (so I should not be controlling the screen) yet I did. Not sure why…

    • kingofmars says:

      There is a wii fitness game that comes with a camera to make sure you are doing the exercises. Jenny Mcarthy fitness. I’m not sure how well it tracks motion, but I’m sure it’s not as good as the kinect.

  4. Not a Fan Boy says:

    Anyone remember Star Trek: Bridge Commander? I would go buy an Xbox and a Kinect right now if I could play that game (or something very similar) entirely with voice commands and gestures.

  5. suburbancowboy says:

    Is the price really that expensive? Considering inflation, I think that video games and preipherals were much more expensive back in the day.

    Sega CD, (1992): $299.00

    I think I paid like 80 bucks for a Sega Menacer with t-2 game, and I don’t think I ever got another game for it.

    Samba De Amigo Maracas: 50 or 60 bucks. Only work with one US Dreamcast game.

    Strider for Sega Genesis : First 8 meg cartridge, MSRP was 75 bucks.

  6. Sumtron5000 says:

    I have never been an early adopter. I usually wait years before buying new toys. The Kinect is probably the first gadget I’ve bought as soon as it came out, and it was well worth it. I freaking love it. I love the fact that I’m forced to stand up and move around, because it is snowing in CT already and this is cheaper than a gym membership. I love that I’m sore as hell after playing video games. I love doing the funky charleston in Dance Central. Have I mentioned how much I love it?

  7. NashuaConsumerist says:

    Agree, these improvements would be nice. I’ve enjoyed my experience thus far, but I also understand that updates, revisions, and additions to the functionality will come as time progresses. It hasn’t been out more than a week yet, and like any launch it takes time to see advancement.

    However, I’m hopeful to see a Wii like controller that will allow both Kinect interaction as well as IR and accelerometer based input, like a hybrid of the two technologies. THAT would ROCK.

  8. minjche says:

    Phil you should have added a sixth bullet point!

    * Include a Lexan shield with each Kinect to protect your TV against rogue ceiling fan pieces.

  9. common_sense84 says:

    “Expand gesture controls across the Xbox 360 interface, including apps such as Netflix and Facebook.”

    Does it work with media center?

    • andyg8180 says:

      nope… just in the kinect dashboard right now… i would think they would release more controls in the spring update

    • kingofmars says:

      No it doesn’t work with media center, but it does work with zune. It’s kind of neat, you wave your hand to get the Minerva attention, then scrub to the location using your hand. To confirm your choice you drag your hand down. It would be nice to see it in media center, but innate a feeling it won’t show up. Scrubbing allows you to quickly jump to any scene in the video, and I have a feeling zune videos are built differently than MC recordings. One can hope though.

    • dorianh49 says:

      Picture go slow.

  10. backinpgh says:

    You forgot:
    *Have Apple make it instead.

    Apple fanboy biased articles FTW!

  11. PunditGuy says:

    People are expecting a freaking Minority Report experience with a $150 peripheral in 2010?

    Baby steps. This is how we get there in 2020.

    • ellemdee says:

      I’m reminded of the scene in Johnny Mneumonic where Keanu Reeves goes online using gloves/goggles & navigates with just hand motions . Not sure how many people saw that movie, but I admit it, I liked it. Probably because I just wanted those internet gloves.

  12. XBoogie says:

    I actually applaud Microsoft for implementing such a groundbreaking, risky device that succeeds at bridging the gap between adults and their children in today’s gaming environment. But it doesn’t stop there, it actually opens the door to new possibilities in home entertainment and user interactivity thru gestures and voice commands.

    Being the owner of Kinect, I am completely blown-away on a daily basis by how intuitive and fun this is. It just makes sense! And as we know, this is just the beginning. The technology that is built into the Kinect sensor can track much more than just your hand moving – it can track the angle of your wrist, and even track FINGER movement. Trust me, there will be MUCH more to come from the Microsoft Kinect team. My family and I can’t wait! Did I mention that my wife loves it too?! She NEVER woudl touch the Xbox – now she love the exercise game. Yeah!

  13. XBoogie says:

    Recommended Improvements:

    * Make more gestures and voice commands available across ALL applications and areas including dashboard, Windows Media extender, media player, etc.

    * Make gesture “selection” process faster by allowing the user to simply close their hand, grab, or point to the app/control that they wish to start or select.

    * Incorporate noise reduction algorithms into video capture/upload process

    * Provide lessons learned and best practices to developers of Kinect enabled applications and games to faclitate more common, successful implementations.

    * Incorporate some level of backwards compatibility with Xbox Vision Camera enbled games and apps – i.e. Totemball!

  14. nodaybuttoday says:

    Kinect is an exciting new step toward the future of gaming, but for me it’s just not there yet and not worth getting quite yet. I’d rather wait and watch it improve and evolve.

  15. Macgyver says:

    “Make games that use voice commands as more than just a throwaway gimmick.”
    That’s on the game developers, and it just came out, give it time.

    “Create more universal gestures that let you do more than just pause the game, such as skip cut scenes.”
    Again, that’s on the developers. But, if the Kinect has voice commands, they should make it where you say pause, and then it pauses.

    “Before games start, show the boundaries of how much living room space we’ve got to work with.”
    You can’t look yourself to see how much room you got.

    People are too impatient. It hasn’t even been a month since it came out, give it time.
    I’d rather keep using my controller.
    Forget all of this Kinect stuff, give me a holodeck.

  16. swanksta says:

    How would you be able to turn it on with voice control if it’s off? I know the version for the old 360’s have a wall plug but new 360’s power it from the console and when the console is off there is likley no power going to the kinect.

  17. Akuma Matata says:

    I’m waiting for it to be like Tony Stark’s workshop. That will be sweet.

  18. dush says:

    Here’s five suggestions:
    – Make it much cheaper
    – Make games that are fun
    – Make it smaller
    – Make it smarter
    – Make it relevant.

  19. Velifer says:

    I keep watching the commercials for the Kinect and (Target?) showing people playing a game where they dance in front of a screen, and they can see a person like them dancing behind the screen.

    It’s called a mirror, folks.

    • squirrel says:

      Except that this “mirror” teaches you some 600-odd dance moves, provides a musical soundtrack, and critiques your style.

      It then packages it up in a slick interface making it more fun to do at parties and other social gatherings.

      Comparing this to a mirror is like comparing Karaoke to singing in the shower.

  20. kingofmars says:

    I would like to see the kinect supplement other games. Audiable calls in Maden, goalie saves in soccer and hockey. I’d also like to see it used as a cover mechanic in shooters like gears of war. Or swat commands in an FPS. I’d also like a sign language program to replace the keyboard input, because I think it would be cool to learn a new language. I’d also like for it to watch me exercise, and that results in my character leveling up.

  21. Blious says:

    I am still not sure why most gamers will want to be forced to move when playing games

    I enjoy laying down on the couch while shooting people

  22. Zelgadis says:

    I’d like to add:

    Try making good games instead of stupid gimmicks.

  23. MrEvil says:

    The startup-shutdown feature wasn’t included as it would require the Xbox and the kinect to basically be on but with the display inactive in order for it to work. Keeping the wireless receiver in the console powered enough to detect the signal from the controller uses far less energy.