Kinect: We Be Body Movin’

Last week Michael and I took a trip to the East coast of Scotland for Edinburgh Interactive 2010. While there we took some time out from the regular schedule and slipped off to see Jerry Johnson (General Manager – Xbox Live Studios) and Nick Burton (Kinect Development Director – Rare) for a chat and some hands on time with Kinect.

We started out with Nick asking me what I knew about Kinect and specifically how Kinect works. Without going into too much detail it soon became clear that I didn’t know very much at all. I was under the impression that the Kinect Sensor used a passive infrared thermal imaging camera to detect bodies. This assumption had left me worrying about how the sensor would cope with multiple bodies and motion towards and away from the camera. Having explained my theories to Nick he politely pointed out that I was quite wrong. He explained that the Kinect Sensor uses an Infrared emitter and camera to make a 3D map of its location and the bodies within it. By detecting and separating out the 3D body shapes in the room it can track and keep tracking a human body while discounting the ‘noise’ in the room caused by other people observing the game.

After this swift lesson I was told it was time for my Kinect Moment, explained as the moment you first step up to a use Kinect and make a silly noise of realisation. The Kinect system in the room was setup in the corner of a fairly small room and was ready and waiting for a player, I was pleased to see there was no special lighting and that we didn’t need to stand a great distance from the TV, it was a fairly normal setup.

Just pick up a ball and throw it!

I stepped up to Kinect Sports Bowling, the system took literally a second or two to detect me standing there and then I was in control of the game. I rubbed my hands together ready to bowl, my avatar did the same. A very small thing I know but it made me grin and chuckle a little, my Kinect Moment, in 10 seconds. On with the game, I held out my right hand to pick up a ball and the game switched to a first person view, I shuffled about a bit and with the help of some on screen indicators I lined up my shot. Wondering how to actually start my shot I looked back at our hosts, “just bowl it?” I asked, the response was a nod. Sod it, I swung my arm back and went for it, a straight shot down the alley for 7 pins followed up with another shot right into the gutter. “Right!” I thought, I’ve got this, maybe a little spin. A fast shot towards the right side of the new rack of pins, turning left at the last second for a STRIKE! I half expected an achievement.

After a few more frames I handed over to Michael. Well I say handed over, he stood up, I sat down. No fuss or faffing about and he was bowling. I got to thinking, I’ve spent many family gatherings playing Wii Sports and Wii Bowling is always the game of choice and while explaining to your gran how to play the game with a Wii controller is a great deal simpler than giving them a standard game pad it is still a total pain in the arse.

Just think back now on how you control Wii Bowling. Wrist strap on, hold it upwards pointing to the ceiling, press and hold the B button, no… the B button… the one under your finger *sigh* the trigger, yes, that’s it. Swing back, then forwards and let go of B. No, let go when you want to let the ball go. Here, let me show you. Pain-in-the-arse.

At the very least my short time with Kinect Sports Bowling made me feel much better about this Christmas. We went on to play Kinect Sports Football, a cool Subbuteo style game with the awesome touch of letting you perform your own victory dance! Later in the day we saw the 100 Meter Dash & Long Jump with each event being sprinkled with neat little touches that bring on that chuckle and grin that left me wanting more.

Kinect Sports Football on stage demo

My over all impression of Kinect was a very simple one, it works. It tracks your body’s movement and reproduces them in the game and Kinect Sports is a simple set of games that proves that and leaves me wondering what other things this technology can be used for. I have no interest in playing Call of Duty or Street Fighter with Kinect, those games have their controllers and there is no need to change them. But I do want to play more Kinect Sports, I do want to see my son play with the Kinectimals and I’m damn sure I want to get my groove on in Dance Central. To be honest, they had me sold when I rubbed my hands together.

To paraphrase the excellent*…

Kinect. It works, bitches!

*An explanation of the XKCD strip…







6 responses to “Kinect: We Be Body Movin’”

  1. DelTorroElSorrow avatar

    Okay my mind is almost completely changed just by the fact that the technology replicates your entire body in real time, I just assumed that was all talk!

  2. Snozzeltoff avatar

    I was never sure on the whole Kinect and motion control wave that the big companies are going for, but i must say reading this has made me think a little more about it.
    I still think i’d have to try it before i bought it, so hopefully we’ll get one here in the office to try out soon.

  3. Darach avatar


    MS has me sold on the hardware, it’s really cool tech. I just hope that developers support it with the great software it deserves. Time will tell, and I’ll be playing come launch day.

  4. Celeste avatar

    Sounds like hardware Haribo. So the avatar embodiment is pretty cool and it’s even more accessible than the Wii? If that’s true, hell, the Wiiniuns might even turn their heads when this thing’s released.

  5. SteMacD avatar

    I’m looking forward to this even more now. Like Darach said I just hope that devs make some great games for it!

  6. jawad avatar

    kay my mind is almost completely changed just by the fact that the technology replicates your entire body in real time, I just assumed that was all talk!

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