Microsoft’s redesigned Xbox One console itself might attract more attention from users looking forward to upgrading in November, but the console’s upgraded Kinect Sensor is also an engineering feat in its own right according to Microsoft.
This past week, Microsoft detailed what it took to get the Xbox One’s Kinect sensor – which comes with every console — on store shelves. Problems for the Microsoft Research Team and Microsoft’s Architecture and Silicon Management group included trying to build the new time-of-flight sensor that is included with the device and trying not to hog too much of the console’s processing power.
The time-of-flight camera allows the Kinect for Xbox One to distinguish between different depths of field. With accurate depth estimations the Xbox One sensor can see shapes and interpret them. It’s a technological treat that didn’t come easy. According to Microsoft, Kinect for Xbox One’s time-of-flight camera emits light signals then interprets them at the speed of light. The Xbox One’s Kinect Sensor even ships with an enhanced wide-angle camera so that it can see more users.
The upgraded camera allows for better posing recognition and more accurate gestures too. Those two things are key if Microsoft is hoping that the Xbox One’s Kinect will help it stand out from other entertainment consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 4. While Sony’s PlayStation Move technology simply couldn’t compete with the Xbox 360’s Kinect sensor, the Sony is hoping that the PlayStation 4 Eye will finally give Microsoft’s controller-less interaction scheme some competition.
While benchmarks for the new Kinect sensor remain elusive, Microsoft says that the Kinect Sensor for the Xbox One is so detailed that it requires the Xbox One itself to process around 6.5 million PPS or pixels-per-second, and it needs to process that information, with only a limited amount of resources.
Unfortunately, whether these new hardware and software innovations will change the Kinect sensor’s public perception is unclear. While the Kinect Sensor for the Xbox 360 sold pretty quickly, uses found themselves without much to do with the sensor in a short time. Kinect for Xbox One is headed down that same path. There aren’t any Kinect-enabled games slated for the Xbox One’s launch. Kinect Sports Rivals was due to launch with the console, Microsoft announced that it would delay it until 2014 a few months ago.
Despite this voice commands, hand gestures and facial recognition are all a part of the software that will ship on-board the Xbox One this holiday season.
The Xbox One goes on sale November 22nd for $499.