Think of it what you will but Microsoft’s Kinect is selling incredibly well at the moment. So much in fact that the company upped their sales forecast from three million to five million units sold to consumers by the end of the year. Not long to go before we find out whether such a prediction is flattery or farcical but Eurogamer unearthed an interesting rumour as to the future of such a new technology. They’ve come to understand that the team behind Kinect are busily coding away their days with the goal to quadruple its accuracy and ultimately detect simple motions like finger movements and hand rotations. Currently, the sensor tracking depth of field on Kinect has a resolution of 320×240 pixels but the rumour is that this will be sharpened to 640×480 by means of a teensy dashboard update that also improves the USB data speed from 15 or 16 MB/s to 35MB/s.
Concerns of performance slow down in games due to a boost in Kinect’s needs are all avoidable and Rich Leadbetter points out that PC modders have already accomplished a similar upgrade to the depth camera. What it means for future Kinect games is a dramatic increase in genres and game types. Large gestures can be replaced with something altogether more subtle in a move much like Nintendo’s release of the Wii MotionPlus add-on. That added 1:1 motion-control and has the potential for greater things (if more developers adopted it). With a higher level of precision, Kinect could seriously become part of a hardcore gamers paraphernalia, aiding the controller in various ways. Something like a squad-based shooter could see players point their teams to tactical advantage points and a Baseball sim where you tell the pitcher what kind of ball to throw with a few flicks of your finger would indeed mimic the real sport.
An upgrade of this type would silence critics like Sony’s software engineer, Anton Mikhailov, who publicly criticised Kinect’s abilities while leaking evidence that suggests a Move Star Wars game in the works. Last month he said: “I’m usually not very aggressive. But I will say [Move’s Star Wars game] be damn better than Kinect could ever do,” adding his disapproval of a good Kinect version “because there are so many ambiguities, and it’s nearly impossible to track the angles of your wrists”. If the rumour is indeed true, the nearly impossible would have become a reality.