After years of mercifully letting Kinect continue to exist, Microsoft finally killed the once revolutionary console.
Microsoft told the innovation site Fast Co Design that after seven years of production, it will no longer make the Xbox auxiliary console, which allowed gamers to get off the couch and actively immerse themselves in gaming by jumping, ducking, and punching.
Kinect uses infrared mapping to capture the 3D shapes of rooms and the acrobatic movements of people inside them.
There are still some 35 million Kinect devices in the world today, a testament to its earlier popularity: In 2011, Kinect was the fastest-selling consumer device on Earth, selling over 130,000 units a day for two months.
Gaming developers, however, were not enthusiastic about developing games that involved actively moving bodies. Developers, who flourished by designing games that relied on just a traditional handheld controller, had little incentive to change — so in large part, they didn’t. As a result, few and mostly forgettable games were created that specifically took advantage of the Kinect’s motion features.
Big franchises — like, say, the Halo games — never made the leap to Kinect’s active style of play, at least in any kind of ground-breaking way that could validate the device’s use for developers.
In its later stages of life, Microsoft billed Kinect as a good way to broadcast video and sound over Skype and Twitch, but evidently this still couldn’t justify its existence.
Although a somewhat archaic piece of hardware now, Kinect’s depth-sensing legacy is still quite relevant. Microsoft, for instance, employs Kinect’s camera tech in its mixed-reality Hololens headsets.
Kinect’s 3D-sensing tech also exists beyond Microsoft and will soon be frequently utilized everywhere: It lives on in the forthcoming iPhone X, which has stimulated both excitement and unease with its infrared facial recognition technology, Face ID.
The Kinect itself may be dead, but we’ll see its applications extended well beyond its failed foray into gaming.