Ilan Spilinger, Vice President of Hardware and Technology at Microsoft, and Raghu Murthi, General Manager of Hardware Natural User Interface at Microsoft, tell us how Kinect came to be.
Very Interesting: How was Kinect born? Why did you think about making such a change in the way you play?
Ilan Games:The first thing we thought about was to change the essence of the living room of the houses. We didn’t just want to use technology to adapt to them or build a system similar to the competition. We wanted to do something better, something really new that would excite users. For this we did all kinds of tests. Some may say that the birth of the Kinect was coincidence or luck, but it responds mainly to the work of what we call “incubation team”. They are people who focus on the development of new future-oriented technological trends and how they can be installed or deployed. The most important thing was to investigate howintegrate 3D sensors into our video game systemand how to improve the video and audio associated with them. It was the first step on a long journey and one that will continue to develop.
Very Interesting: What did you want to achieve and avoid with Kinect?
Ilan Games:Above all, we wanted to keep the market price from skyrocketing, to improve the presence of the Xbox 360 and to find a way for this product to have global penetration. In the end, our goal, of course, is to be the leader in game consoles. We will see how this technology develops in other spaces. Maybe we end up integrating it into computers, televisions …
Raghu Murthi:I’m not sure if we really wanted to avoid something. We were basically looking fora new gaming experience and generate excitement.
Ilan Games:What I really hope to avoid is users comparing the Kinect to other technologies. We do not want them to think that it is more of the same, because in reality it is something very different from what already exists in the market, and that is appreciated both in games and in the new video chat.
Very Interesting: Were there any ideas in the original concept that had to be discarded because they were not viable?
Raghu Murthi:We discarded many concepts that did not meet the objectives we had set. This, as I was saying, was to make sure that we would get a large share of the market. We took into account technologies very similar to the Wii or even Move, but we discarded them because we felt that they were only an evolution, and not a revolution, which is what Kinect is.
Very Interesting: What are the basic qualities of this system?
Raghu Murthi:The core principle of the Kinect is the user’s ability to become the controller. A) Yes,can be played using the body or using voice commands, expressing ourselves in a natural way, without having to hold anything in hand.
Ilan Games:The idea is to simplify the gaming experience so that you don’t need to know anything in advance. Thus, anyone can start using the Kinect without training.
Very Interesting: What has been the best idea you have received to make a game for Kinect?
Raghu Murthi:There are different things that impress different people. It happened to me when I first played table tennis with the Kinect. It is such a real experience that it impresses. It was a fantastic thing.
Ilan Games:For me it was different. One thing I didn’t like about the existing technologies is that you had to hold the controller in your hand, so to play boxing, for example, you had to do different movements than natural ones. I wanted everything to be more real, to take into account the angles, the complete movements of the arm … My best experience with the Kinect is related to thesports. Physical movement changes everything: the idea that jumping one way or another or crawling modifies the outcome. That’s really what makes the difference. The more you sweat, the higher your score will be, as can be seen, for example, in Kinect Adventures.
Very Interesting: How does Kinect improve Xbox 360 in terms of social environments?
Raghu Murthi:Actually, Kinect is inherent to social games. With this system I can see multiple players, participate within a room and connect with others around the world. In addition, other of its characteristics, such as video chat, with which we can obtain a complete visual representation, reinforce that social experience.
Ilan Games:In fact, the most interactive will be related to that social dimension. Kinect is the best technology that exists today to connect with others. Users will interact with the TV screen and with the people who are not behind the screen.
Very Interesting: Will Kinect affect classic games in any way? Is this technology going to be integrated into other titles such as Halo Reach, Gears of War 3 or Fable III?
Ilan Spilinger:It is not something that is going to be seen in the first bars of Kinect. We wanted to be creative in the environment. We may see built-in elements in future releases. Something like a hybrid. For example, you could playHellonormally and throw a grenade with a wave of the hand. In any case, it won’t happen this year. First we are going to create a “pure” environment, without control, and we will see what happens.
Very Interesting: How will the most social games be: sports, musical, or perhaps party games?
Raghu Murthi:Kinect is going to bevery popular in group games orparty games. There may be a single player or several, they will be able to join or leave the game at all times …
Very Interesting: Will there be new concepts, games that we have never seen to date?
Raghu Murthi:As technology unfolds, developers will surely end up working on new genres.
Ilan Games:We have an open system, so we can collaborate with developers and resellers. So we are also waiting for your ideas, to surprise us.
THIS IS KINECT INSIDE
Journalist and gamer