Some Thoughts On Kinect

I’m biased here: I worked in the same building in which the Kinect was developed. But I wanted to share some thoughts about the use case that’s surprised me the most, because it’s not what I thought about when I first saw it, and I think not why most people buy it.

The Kinect is an advanced 3D motion detection camera. It is sold bot with new Xboxes, as well as an accessory. If you go into Microsoft stores you will see kids playing with Kinect as an advanced Wii — as the ads say, “you are the controller.”

It’s been months since we played a game that way.

What we’ve been doing a lot more, though, is use the voice recognition engine. Because the Kinect for Xbox contains a microphone, and uses Microsoft TellMe (our not-quite-as-cool but released earlier version of Siri) for voice recognition / natural user interface, you can control the Xbox with only voice, using hand-waving as a back-up interface.

Right now I’m listening to music which I got to by saying “Xbox, bing Sufjan Stevens,” saying “Seven Swans” at the list of albums, and then saying “Play Album.” But frankly, the Zune pass (which does the on-demand music streaming) has not been a market success, and Last.fm (which is free and more popular) does not allow you to specifically choose albums to stream. Plus Zune goes on the fritz more than I would like (like now — sigh).

A bigger difference in our life has been increased use of Netflix. My wife and I watched two movies today (Four Rooms and Jackie Brown), and have watched a long list of them recently, including:

My suspicion is that when it comes to chillaxing time, freeing yourself from the formality of the remote makes it easier to start movies. It’s interesting for a technology that I suspect will have the biggest impact in disability & medical fields, & children’s toys, but for us it makes netflix an less stressful option than the cable guide.