Microsoft’s Kinect (once known as ‘Project Natal‘) could be a game-changing platform, if marketers and developers can connect the dots (pardon the wordplay). Not only does it provide unique opportunities for gaming and other more traditional forms of entertainment, but it also has high potential to affect commercial areas as diverse as retail, customer loyalty programs, fitness and education–enabled by various forms of augmented reality and social gaming.
What Kinect Does & What Makes it Unique
In an initial ‘Project Natal’ (Kinect) fact sheet released in May 2009, Microsoft describes what differentiates its functionality:
- Controller-free gaming and entertainment. “Project Natal” provides a whole new way to play — no controller required. It uses a sensor to track your body movement and recognize your face, even listen to your voice. If you know how to move your hands, shake your hips, or speak, you and your friends will be able to jump instantly into any “Project Natal” experience.
- Full-body play. “Project Natal” provides a new way to play where you use all parts of your body — head, hands, feet and torso. With controller-free gaming you don’t just control the superhero, you are the superhero. Full-body tracking allows the “Project Natal” sensor to capture every move, from head to toe, to give players a full-body gaming experience.
- Personalized play. “Project Natal” provides an in-game experience in which the player’s face and voice are recognized. Greet and speak to characters in the game, or simply step into view of the sensor to log into Xbox LIVE and connect with friends. Only “Project Natal” is smart enough to remember voices and faces. Fun has never been so personalized.
- Off-the-couch play. “Project Natal” provides gameplay that gets you off the couch, on your feet and in the fun. Each “Project Natal” experience is designed to get players moving, laughing, cheering and playing together. “Project Natal” makes social gaming off-the-couch fun.
- Easy-to-play fun. “Project Natal” makes sharing in the fun a snap. Talk or watch a movie in the same living room or on the other side of the world — no headset, no keyboard and no controllers required. It’s just you, your friends, your family and a whole new way to play.
Beyond not needing a controller, the platform’s ability to recognize a person’s entire body — face included — and voice creates a whole new level of identification between the user and her virtual persona. On top of recognizing you, it remembers you, allowing for easy recollection of checkpoints and check-ins (a hint of what’s to come in the article!).
Seeing the Kinections
Now that you know what it does, let’s consider some of its potential applications.
While I briefly discuss some broad applications, there are certainly more, and I’d love to hear some of your ideas in the comments section! Enjoy this video demo of Kinect from CNN!0