TechSavvy: The Kinect - child's play? Or not?

Published: Saturday | January 1, 2011 Comments 0

Payton H. Wilmott, Gleaner Writer

This may be the first and only time you'll see me write about a video game or video-game peripheral because most persons think this sphere of technology is childish. I had the same view of things until I got my hands on the Xbox 360 Kinect. This device is revolutionary in every way.

What is it?

The Kinect is an add-on for the Microsoft Xbox 360 that opens up a whole new world of features. How can I explain something that offers so much? Hmmm. I guess it's best to start by telling you what it is.

The Kinect is a device that captures full body motion and sound and can simulate that in a game environment. That was the layman's explanation of the Kinect, but the gizmo geek in me wants to burst out into some technological mumbo-jumbo. Here are the geeky facts:

What makes the Kinect tick?

Sensor

Colour and depth-sensing lenses

Voice microphone array

Tilt motor for sensor adjustment

Field of view

Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees

Vertical field of view: 43 degrees

Physical tilt range: 27 degrees

Depth sensor range: 1.2m-3.5m

Tracking System

Tracks up to six people, including two active players.

Tracks 20 joints per active player.

Ability to map active players to Xbox LIVE Avatars.

Audio system

Xbox LIVE party chat and in-game voice chat (requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership).

Echo cancellation system enhances voice input.

Speech recognition in multiple languages.

So what's all the fuss about?

I'm sure you've seen the advertisements for this device all on TV, and I'm here to confirm it's all true. Once you hook up the Kinect to the Xbox 360, there's no need for a control. Your whole body becomes the control for the games, and the games are really interactive and fun.

The next amazing fact about the Kinect is that it also gives you the ability to speak to the Xbox 360 directly because it has a built-in microphone. So you can give the Xbox 360 commands to sign in a profile or skip a chapter on a movie.

Final thoughts

Most persons are looking down on the Kinect as a toy for the younger generation, but let it be told that games like Dance Central and Biggest Loser are geared towards the older folks for losing weight and learning new dance moves.

What makes it even more appealing to more mature folk is the fact that you don't have to learn to use any control, which is awesome for persons that can't be bothered with the hassle of understanding new gizmos.

The last thing you should know is that hackers are feverishly working on an application that will allow the Kinect to work on the standard PC.

The products mentioned in this article were provided courtesy of Royale Computers and Accessories; telephone 906-1067, 906-1068 or 754-5048.

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