I had the fortunate opportunity to beta test the original Kinect for the Xbox 360 back in 2010. Even though it was buggy at first, but quickly improved through the beta period, I could immediately see that Microsoft was on to something. Now almost exactly seven years to the date of its initial launch, Microsoft has confirmed that they are no longer manufacturing the Kinect.
“When we introduced Xbox One, we designed it to have the best experience with the Kinect. That was our goal with the Xbox One launch,” said Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing. “And like all product launches, you monitor that over time, you learn and adjust.”
That right there pretty much sums up why the Kinect, while fairly popular on the Xbox 360, never took off on the Xbox One. Ever since Microsoft’s latest console was first announced, alongside the fact that the Kinect would be bundled with every Xbox One, the more dedicated gamers scoffed at the device. After time, the Xbox One started coming without it bundled, and the Kinect can’t even connect directly to the Xbox One S and upcoming Xbox One X without a dongle. While there were some clever games that utilized the Kinect, like Blue Estate and various iterations of dance games among others, there weren’t any real big name franchises that jumped on board with the technology.
While many gamers are probably thinking “it’s about damn time,” a Windows version of the Kinect is also used extensively by researchers for various research activities. When told of the news, Golan Levin, director of the esteemed Studio for Creative Inquiry at CMU (Carnegie Mellon University) was less than enthused:
“Oh my god. Jesus. There’s my reaction,” Levin told Co.Design. “You can quote me saying, ‘Oh, comma, shit, period.’ […] But this is one of those times I’m sad to hear that a tool which is used for so many different applications, and is so ubiquitous, and has served crucially as a platform for so much creative experimentation, cultural progress, and secondary innovation, in so many different fields, isn’t supporting their core business.”
It’s no question that the Kinect has been suffering a very slow, drawn-out death, but while the actual device is being laid to rest its core technology is living on in a number of places. As Co.Design mentions, Kinect technology is used in Microsoft’s Hololens project and members of the Kinect team have been involved in developing Cortana, Windows Hello, and a new context-aware user interface called Gaze, Gesture, and Voice (GGV). An iteration of Kinect technology is also contained in the iPhone X after Apple acquired PrimeSense, the company that Microsoft licensed the 3D tracking technology from for the first Kinect, back in 2013.
While Microsoft won’t be manufacturing any more Kinect devices once existing stock runs out, they will continue to support it for the time being for Kinect users on the Xbox.Source: Co.Design
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