November 5th, 2010

Kinect

So, I just spent a fair amount of time surfing the net looking for information on the Microsoft Kinect. It came out in America yesterday and comes out in Europe in a couple weeks.

For those of you who have never heard of it, the Kinect is a device for the XBox 360 that uses cameras to track your body movements so you can play games without any controller at all. Your body is the controller.

Obviously this has the potential to be awesome for Star Wars games, dance games, sports games, etc...

I thought it sounded exciting.

But, then I read the reviews and have realized that Microsoft has made the biggest hardware fuck up in their entire history. Here are some of the "issues" with the Kinect.

1. It requires six to nine feet of completely free space in a 180 degree radius. This means that no city dweller will ever be able to use this device. Think about how large a radius that is. Most people living in apartments would have to remove all of their furniture. Even so many would still not have enough space. Even if you own your own house, there generally isn't that much free space. You'd have to move your coffee table, chairs, bean bags, whatever every single time you want to use the fucking thing. Not. Going. To. Happen.

2. Think how large a television you'd have to have to be nine feet away from it and still be able to see the screen clearly enough to fight Darth Maul effectively.

3. The facial recognition software doesn't work for dark skinned people. Really.

4. According to theferrett it also doesn't work for anyone wearing glasses.

So, essentially, if you live in a city, don't have a giant open air basement playroom and/or happen to not be white and have good vision plus a giant flat screen television - then this really expensive piece of hardware will not work for you.

How did this happen?

I can't be sure, but I'd hazard a guess. I bet the Microsoft product development team is fairly young. So, the odds of them having to wear glasses is probably lower than the overall population. They get good benefits, so if they do have bad vision they can probably afford contacts.

I'm also willing to bet that the team is probably not composed of a lot of dark skinned people. I hate to say it but I don't think we've reached a point in America yet where there are all that many black people with high end computer engineering degrees working in Fortune 500 hardware design environments.

Then, they probably tested this fucker in a large open air lab. And, because engineers are often people who focus on specific tasks rather than creative conceptual applications, they probably just worried about whether the thing worked, rather than how practical it would be outside a lab environment.

Finally, if they did try to think practically they probably all live in large homes that do have open air playroom basements - and they probably don't interact that much with people who live in cities. Therefore they had no frame of reference for how rare a six to nine foot radius in someone's home actually is.

The result - a device that I'm sure worked awesomely for Microsoft developers in their lab, but will be a useless piece of junk for most people.

They should have named it XBox Vista.