November 10, 2010

Xbox Kinect

For those of you that haven't heard of Xbox Kinect, don't worry, you will.  Microsoft is reportedly spending $500M marketing it.  If you haven't tried it out, you really should, it is very cool.  You can read all about it at www.xbox.com/en-US/Kinect.

In a nutshell, with Kinect you are the controller.  It features an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone which provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition capabilities.  The depth sensor consists of an infrared projector combined with a monochrome CMOS sensor, and allows the Kinect sensor to see in 3D under any ambient light conditions (referenced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinect)

Of course being a tech geek I had to get one.  I have two theatre setups in the house. Upstairs is a 42" plasma, and downstairs a Panasonic HD projector and a 170" screen. Kinect works with both, but actually works much better upstairs on the plasma.

With the projector the ideal viewing distance is about 15' away, and Kinect wants you in the 6-10' range. Getting that close interferes with the picture. I can setup the Kinect out into the room and that makes it better. The other problem is the facial recognition and pictures don't work with the lights off (which is how the projector works best). Both rooms are big so space is not a problem. In the end I set it up on the plasma upstairs, and it's working great.  A little duct tape keeps it in place on top of the plasma, but I will be looking for or making a proper mount for it.

We had the family over tonight, and even my 73 year old Dad was up playing (first time on an Xbox). Very cool. Microsoft is targeting the non-gamer audience with this, and I think they've done a bang on job of that.