Tech UPTechnologyIn the heart of Kinect

In the heart of Kinect



A little over three years ago, the video game industry found that something more than spectacular graphics could prevail in the market. Also that those who did not play could be introduced to electronic entertainment through other ways of interacting with the consoles. After the success of Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft officials racked their brains to turn their Xbox 360 into a more social machine .

The result is Kinect, a control system based on movement and user traits that goes on sale this November . VERY has traveled to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond (Washington) to see first-hand the technology that makes it possible and that will surely mark a before and after in the history of consoles.

This machine sits on three pillars. On the one hand, the camera, equipped with intelligent zoom and a motorized lens system that can change planes automatically. This allows the team to adapt perfectly to the dimensions of the room it is in and detect users, even those who join a game that is already underway. Its 3D sensor, meanwhile, uses a harmless laser beam to scan people and objects in the room. A computer program tells the machine that everything in front of it that is larger than a human being or that remains immobile and stable for a time is part of the furniture. But the challenge for Kinect is, above all, to distinguish some players from others.


Analysis of the player’s anatomy

To overcome it, take into account48 points of our anatomy, measures the distances between the different joints, the volume of the subject … Thus, if in a game of two players one leaves and a third enters, it will immediately mark this with the number 3. The sensor also recognizes the face and the gestures of a regular user, even if he grows a beard or changes his haircut, which increases the degree of affinity with the console and facilitates the loading of our personal profile just by standing in front of it.

The third hallmark of the Kinect technology refers to sound. TheirFour microphones allow you to give verbal commands to the Xbox 360, a faculty that is not limited to video games. For example, if we are watching a movie, just say “Xbox, pause” or “Xbox, play” for the playback to stop or activate. Until now, teams that incorporated a similar advance required the user to select the moment at which he was going to speak, almost always by pressing a button. Kinect is much more transparent. His philosophy is to be prepared to function at all times, so he must constantly listen and be able to distinguish the natural voice from the sounds that the television emits. In essence, the system detects the sounds coming out of the console and ignores those that are not relevant. In a normal situation – regardless of the noises produced by a nearby construction site or by a dog barking next to the device – the response is exceptional. It’s more,the team is able to interpret the accents of each person.

Microsoft engineers worked in collaboration with the company’s linguists, who have extensive experience developing similar systems to improve access to Windows for the disabled. In addition, a different software model has been developed for each of the countries in which Kinect will go on sale. In this way, the machine will be perfectly synchronized with a specific language, a breakthrough that further improves the control of the console.


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Victor Sanchez
Journalist and gamer

Are you interested? Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Ilan Spilinger and Raghu Murthi on how Knect was created

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