Microsoft: Kinect 2.0 could detect tone of voice and body stance

Kinect might be a paradise for hackers to fiddle with, but Kinect games — especially the recent Kinect Star Wars — have been either lackluster or mostly skewed towards the casual/kiddie end because of the sensor's limitations. Kinect 2.0 could track more than just your body skeleton.

It's not that Kinect is a piece of junk when you're trying to use it to play games; it's that it seems to work whenever it feels like it. Advanced as its tracking abilities are (remember, this is $30,000 tech for $150), it still requires a good distance between it and users to work properly and its voice controls are still somewhat in its infancy.

Microsoft did give the Kinect a nice spec bump for close-distance operation with Kinect for Windows, but more can still be done.

Head of all things Kinect, Kudo Tsunoda, sat down down with MCVUK to discuss everything happening with Kinect and what we should watch out for:

We want to get to the stage where not only can Kinect detect what you're saying but also tone of voice and body stance, and work that into the narrative. There are some really compelling experiences to be gained from that.

In theory, if a future Kinect can detect tone of voice, it could react differently to different moods. If I'm happy when I'm gaming, cheering or laughing, it could push incentives to keep me engaged. If I'm shouting at the Kinect during a heated session of Battlefield 3 where I'm getting my arse kicked, it could automatically lower the difficulty. Or if I'm slouching during a game, Kinect could remind me to sit up straight or automatically turn the Xbox off because I've put in yet another five hours into Skyrim.

Tsunoda also said that developers are doing more "seated play" — meaning you can sit down and play without tiring waggling arms. Good to know Microsoft still cares about us lazy couch potatoes.

We'd like to see the close-range tracking from the Windows model of Kinect make the jump to the Xbox Kinect, more advanced and natural voice recognition like Siri, more finger-tracking uses and more integration into "hardcore" games.

What would you like from Kinect 2.0?


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