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Microsoft's Kinect may be in its last days

xbox 360 kinect

Support for the gaming and non-gaming versions of the sensor is going away.


Microsoft's Kinect was one of its most impressive hardware creations. For a relatively low cost, it allowed for fairly accurate motion detection and voice recognition, which led to the development of games where players got off the couch and jumped around, manipulating the game with their bodies instead of a controller.

Encouraged, Microsoft released a special SDK for using Kinect with a Windows PC for non-game use. It was used in 3D visualizations, such as an operating room where doctors could manipulate a 3D image of a body by waving their hand in the air to rotate and flip an image on screen.

But it looks like the Kinect experiment is coming to an end. Microsoft has removed several partnered development houses from the official Microsoft Studios Website, many of which were involved in Kinect-based game development. The company also shuttered a game studio it ran called Lionhead, which led gamers to think the axe was going to fall again.

It also does not help that the Kinect SDK, currently at version 2.0, has not been updated since its release in October 2014.

What exactly happened with Kinect is a bit of a mystery. No one ever complained about the accuracy of it or that it performed poorly. The only knock on it was you had to stand back a fair distance. I remember at one of the last E3 shows I attended there was a vendor pushing Kinect "glasses," so you could stand closer.

What might have been its undoing was the connection to Xbox One. With the Xbox 360 console, Kinect was an option. Before the release of the Xbox One, Microsoft decreed it would be mandatory, tacking on $250 to the price tag. Then came concerns that Kinect would be listening in on your conversations, since it was voice activated. Following a huge backlash, Microsoft made Kinect an option.

It could also be Microsoft is letting Kinect die off because it has something better in the works: HoloLens. The virtual reality headset has earned a lot of buzz for being vaporware but it's expected to ship this year. It could simply be Kinect is to the iPod what HoloLens is to the iPhone: the better replacement.

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