Microsoft’s Next-Gen Kinect for Windows Sensor Launching Next Year
Microsoft has already revealed the always-on Kinect for its new Xbox One console, but Redmond is adding another sensor to its lineup—the next-generation Kinect for Windows.
The tech giant announced on Thursday that its new Windows-based sensor, expected to launch next year, was built with much of the same technology as the new Xbox One Kinect, meaning it will include voice and gesture commands.
"Just as the new Kinect sensor will bring opportunities for revolutionizing gaming and entertainment, the new Kinect for Windows sensor will revolutionize computing experiences. The precision and intuitive responsiveness that the new platform provides will accelerate the development of voice and gesture experiences on computers," Bob Heddle, director of Kinect for Windows, wrote in a blog post.
Kinect for Windows will come with a high-definition color camera, as well as a noise-isolating multi-microphone array to filter ambient sounds and better recognize speaking voices. It will also include Microsoft's Time-of-Flight technology, which measures the time it takes photons to bounce off of a person or object.
"All of this means that the new sensor recognizes precise motions and details," Heddle said, pointing to slight wrist rotation, body position, and even the wrinkles in clothes as data the new Kinect will sense and analyze. The sensor's enhancements will make it easier for developers to better track people, objects, and environments with greater detail. And with an expanded field of view, those details will come alive no matter the size of the room you play in.
Rumor: Next Xbox Tied at the Hip to New, Improved Kinect
Very specific information about the next-generation Xbox code named Durango has gone from a few leaks to a full-fledged gusher with the latest bit of so-called intelligence coming from a Kotaku source called SuperDaE.
The big news, if SuperDaE is to be believed—the next-gen Xbox will ship with a vastly improved Kinect motion sensor that "will always be watching you," according to Kotaku. In fact, the so-called Xbox 720 won't work unless the next-gen Kinect is plugged in, the source said.
Microsoft, of course, is remaining mum on all such leaks about the next Xbox. Nintendo released its eight-generation game console, the Wii U, at the end of 2012. As expected, Microsoft and Sony held out on making theirs available until this year—most industry watchers figure the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation will hit shelves sometime just before the end-of-year holiday season, but it could be sooner.
SuperDaE, who claimed to have two Durango development kits, gave the gaming site an earful about what to expect from the successor to Microsoft's current Xbox 360 , most it apparently gleaned from informational materials sent to game developers being courted by Redmond to create titles for the coming console.
Microsoft Kinect Gets $40 Price Cut
Microsoft today dropped the price of its Kinect sensor to $109.99 in the U.S., down from $149.99.
Redmond described the price drop as a "permanently reduced price."
Larry Hryb, director of programming for the Xbox Live, said in a blog post that Microsoft will also cut the price elsewhere in North America, as well as in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, though he did not reveal what that price will be.
On Oct. 4, the Kinect will also get a price reduction in Australia and New Zealand, Hryb said, but there are no plans for a less expensive Kinect in EMEA and Japan.
In June, Microsoft offered up a $99 Xbox 360 console and Kinect motion controllers for buyers who signed up for a two-year Xbox Live Gold Membership. One of Microsoft's 2011 Black Friday deals was also a $99 Kinect.
Microsoft Offering $99 Xbox, Kinect Bundle With Subscription
Microsoft this week offered up an Xbox and Kinect bundle for $99 for those who subscribe to a two-year Xbox Live Gold Membership.
The Xbox Live membership will run $14.99 per month. Those who sign up will get the 4GB Xbox 360 and the Kinect sensor for $99.
Buyers will need to bring the coupon currently listed on microsoftstore.com (or offer code 885370366266) to a nearby Microsoft Store. The deal does not appear to be available online, while Microsoft said the deal is a promotional offer and could end at any time.
According to the Xbox website, users can return the hardware and cancel their subscription within 30 days, but the first month's $14.99 payment is non-refundable. After 30 days, users will incur an early termination fee (ETF) that will start at $250 and decrease as the two years progress; a user would owe $144 after one year, for example.
News of a possible $99 Xbox/Kinect bundle was first reported last week by The Verge.
Videogame Sales Plunge 34 Percent in January
Sales of videogame software and hardware nose-dived in January, following a dearth of new releases and a strong showing by Microsoft's Kinect peripheral a year ago.
Overall, the news was grim: total videogame sales fell 34 percent from Jan. 2011 to $750.6 million, according to NPD. Hardware sales fell 38 percent to $199.5 million, while video game software sales fell the same amount to $355.9 million. Sales of video game accessories fell by 18 percent to $195.2 million.
"January retail performance experienced steep declines with a lack of software launches, and poor hardware and accessory performance partly related to bad comps [comparables] from Kinect-related success in Jan'11, NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a an accompanying email note.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 continued its dominance of the console market, outselling all others for the sixth straight month. Microsoft recently claimed that the Xbox 360 was the top console for all of 2011, based on NPD data.
Kinect, Office 2010 Help Boost Microsoft Revenue
Sales of Kinect for the Xbox and Office 2010 helped boost Microsoft revenue by 15 percent last quarter, the company announced Thursday.
Revenue landed at $19.95 billion. That's up from $19 billion from the same time period last year, though that $19 billion figure included $1.71 billion in deferred revenue from the Windows 7 Upgrade Option program and Windows 7 pre-orders. As a result, revenue was up 15 percent year-over-year without that deferment, Microsoft said.
Profit came in at $6.63 billion, down slightly from last year's $6.66 billion.
Netflix, Hulu Coming to Kinect, Windows Phone 7 Getting Update
LAS VEGAS – Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show here Wednesday night, introducing a variety of product updates, including gesture- and voice-based access to Netflix and Hulu Plus via Kinect and an upcoming software update to Windows Phone 7.
Ballmer announced that Microsoft sold 8 million Kinect devices in its first 60 days; well ahead of the projected 5 million. "This has been the biggest holiday and the biggest year ever for Xbox," Ballmer said.
Taking advantage of this new user base, starting this spring, Xbox users will be able to control their Netflix streaming queue or Hulu Plus account via Kinect. Rather than clicking through movies or TV shows via the remote, users can use gestures or voice commands.
"We will make entertainment more interactive, more social, and more fun for everyone, and we'll do it like no one else can," Ballmer said.