THE KINECT

When Microsoft first released their Xbox Kinect in 2010 it was received with mostly positive feedback.  It also extended the usability of their system beyond traditional gamers.  They enhanced playing experience with an exciting glimpse of what might be possible:  creating more natural styles of interaction, enhancing interfaces using a relatively inexpensive gadget which allowed for gesture-based and voice-based user input and experience.

What followed was the release of an SDK for programming solutions around that technology and imaginations took flight on its potential.  Interesting prototypes leveraging the Kinect SDK continued to pop-up for years.  Projects ahead of their time such as virtual fitting rooms, interactive kiosks, enhanced VR/AR experiences, 3D object scanning, and input systems based solely on head and neck movement.

PROJECT KINECT FOR AZURE

The Kinect for Xbox devices were shelved as a product line in October 2017 and removed as an add-on from Microsoft’s gaming system. However, shortly thereafter Project Kinect for Azure was borne May 7, 2018, from the successes of the prototyping the were spawned from those original efforts.   This effort geared to harness the benefits of the Azure platform targets businesses now rather than home and hobbyist, but the underlying technology is still based on those original efforts.

Today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft raised the bar on input devices by forgoing the current ergonomic designs common for the last decade, but potentially expanding the usability of their systems for the billion disabled people of the world (World Health Organization).

Today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft raised the bar on input devices

The Adaptive Controller shows a deep level of effort to maximize the experiences of this under-represented user base. Jump buttons can be mapped to foot pedals, finger requirements are circumvented by controls that can be mastered by elbows or wrists, and giant drum like buttons ensure that fun isn’t slowed by physical limitations. The inclusivity of the device is inspiring. It retails for $100 and is putting Nintendo and Sony on notice in the gaming world. But more than that, by focusing on under-represented population Microsoft refreshes its image as a company who puts people first, ahead of a market that hasn’t historically been a financial windfall.

It is unclear if the new controllers will spur an explosion of imagination the way the Kinect did in 2010. But I for one am excited by the possibilities of business done right. At Tech Officers, we pride ourselves on following this focus on inclusivity for our clients.

 

Kudos to Microsoft.  Well done.

Interested in reading more?

https://nerdist.com/xbox-adaptive-controller-accessible-gaming-microsoft-ablegamers/

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/d3kvx7/microsoft-adaptive-controller

https://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft-has-a-new-xbox-adaptive-controller-designed-to-help-disabled-people-play/

Brian Cosgrove

Author Brian Cosgrove

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