Published on April 7th, 2013 | by Scot Mackay2
Blog: What is your Kinection?
I had a dream, it was beautiful….I would be able to pick objects up in games using my real hands, I would be able to project my face onto my chosen avatar, I would be able to pick locks with subtle movements of my fingers and I would be able to manipulate anything in game that I saw fit…all without the aid of a controller. I envisioned a mixture of something similar to the system Tom Cruise uses in Minority Report and the Batcomputer, but what I ended up with was something that makes me sweaty from running on the spot, sore from swinging my arms and legs around like an epileptic in a nightclub and slightly frustrated that there are so many limitations in place.
I liked the fact that I would be able to play, pause and rewind my movies using my voice. I thought it would save in trying to teach the missus how to use my controller (apparently drawing out a coloured diagram is frowned upon and condescending, who knew?) What I didn’t know at the time and much to my displeasure is that the voice activation only works for movies which have been purchased through Xbox Live and not for a separately bought DVD’s. This irritated me as many of the movies available on Xbox Live (of which there are many) don’t tend to be competitively priced with my favourite tax dodgers, Amazon. I did shell out for some movies which I knew I would watch repeatedly such as Aliens and Ironman. This allowed me to use the voice recognition but it was quite soon I noticed a little problem….
I live in the north of Scotland where the men are men and the women are sometimes indistinguishable from other men, I eat porridge and piss Iron Bru, I wear kilts and shout “Och Aye the Noo”. I take my haggis for its daily walk and all the sausages I have ever eaten….are square, so what could this little black box which looks like the cremated head of Johnny 5 possibly do that would prevent me from using many of its features…….simple, It just couldn’t understand a single word I said 90% of the time. It was infuriating not to be able to actually use the function because I was the one defective piece of the puzzle, it was me! This started a new hobby of mine, impressions. Apparently it works for my George Bush but not for Nelson Mandela and it gets a little bit random when I bust out my James Earl Jones, but I can deal with that. The Kinect does take samples of speech which it then adds to its database to increase accuracy with the multitude of dialects spoken around the world to aid in its speech recognition, I just hope it gets better soon as I have it on good authority that Sean Connery is still struggling.
Apart from suffering my teenage problems of never being understood, I forged on in my use of the Kinect. As with a great percentage of the UK, I do not posses the body of Adonis, I do not have the stamina of a camel and I most certainly do not have the physical fitness required to bounce around in my living room like a 14 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert….so I faced another problem. I made the catastrophic mistake of setting up my Kinect in my living room which just so happens to have two very large windows. I know that when the curtains are open, any random member of the public who may be standing at the bus stop which is situated directly in front of my house will be treated to the eye shattering sight of a 20 stone sweaty man gyrating whilst mouthing profanities before collapsing out of view.
This was awkward indeed as there was nowhere else in my house that I could set up the Kinect due to the play space it required. I don’t possess a tennis court sized living room which every advert showing the Kinect seems to have and it makes using the two player option quite difficult, but it does allow me to play Tetris by having to rotate every piece of my furniture around to make the most space possible which is just an absolute joy. The Kinect has fallen into the same area as the Nintendo Wii by only being fun if it is used for family and Party games. The chances are you are never going to come home from work after 9hrs on your feet to stand in your living room and drain yourself of what little energy you have left…. but in the event of having a few people round, getting blind drunk and trying to bust a move in the Michael Jackson Experience and suddenly your opinion of the Kinect changes. Is there anything funnier than watching Grandma body poppin’ to “Drop it like its hot” by Snoop Dogg?
Didn’t really think about the landing.
The future of Kinect?
There are many things that I have said that poke fun at the Kinect and highlight some of its bad points but the truth is, I believe the Kinect is the next step in an evolution of gaming technology much like when triggers or rumble packs were first implemented on controllers. With any new piece of technology, there has to be a certain amount of time allocated to developers to get to grips with it. Hence why we are still seeing more beautiful games nowadays on the Xbox than when it was originally released. Its all about utilising every last drop of ability and pushing its capabilities. If you coupled the Kinect with the Illumiroom technology and 3D gaming influenced by augmented reality could we be looking at steps towards home situated virtual reality gaming or even better steps towards our very own “Holodecks”? Maybe this is a stretch of my imagination, maybe a leap of imagination ….but….what If its not? A company has already taken steps to produce 3d images by using lasers to excite nitrogen and oxygen in the air and create 3D images without using a screen. The “Holodeck” scenario seems to have just taken a giant leap closer and I can already feel my inner Trekkie start to tremble with excitement. With very few peripherals making the attempt of reducing the barrier between the player and game, the Kinect is the first one that actually shows the direction that tech developers are taking to build these new experiences. You just have to look at the range of new TV’s coming out, clearly using the tech that the Kinect has pioneered to change channels and settings by using voice and hand gestures to see how many different fields of tech are being influenced by it.
In short the Kinect has become the bullied kid at school. Ridiculed, laughed at and underrated. One day that little kid will hit the gym and come back with more muscles than Brock Lesner’s neck. What this means for Kinect is that when Skynet takes over, the doubters will need to form a resistance or accept that it has actually improved many of their gaming experiences.
Only the future will tell.