Is This How Microsoft Will Fix Kinect's Couch Problem?

Microsoft's forthcoming Kinect camera controller for the Xbox 360 plays better with standing humans than it does with couch potatoes. Microsoft says it's still "calibrating" Kinect for seated players and may accomplish that with a little help from

The Xbox 360 maker may have turned to Amazon's Mechanical Turk service to make Kinect's depth-sensing camera work better when confronted with furniture, pets and people of varying shapes and sizes.

For those unfamiliar with Amazon Mechanical Turk, it's an online service that distributes thousands of small tasks to a "diverse, on-demand, scalable workforce". Those tasks include tagging objects in a photo or video, transcribing audio recordings or writing small articles. It's grunt work and typically pays pennies for small, repetitive tasks.

Kotaku reader Charonchan pointed us to a series of Mechanical Turk jobs - HITs or Human Intelligence Tasks - that appear to be Kinect related. Users are tasked with looking at an images, seeing if there is an identifiable human head in the shot, then tagging the head, shoulders, elbows and hands with a simple skeletal frame.

Many of the images have users seated on coaches or near tables, chairs and Rock Band drum controllers. Those images are animated - helpful for picking out details in these low quality, monochromatic shots - and they look like this.

The images are full of variety, filled with sofas, lamps, ottomans, coffee tables, big people, little people, dogs and all kinds of distractions that might confuse Kinect's infrared projector and depth sensor. They're available on Amazon Mechanical Turk for the studying and tagging until next week.

While the HIT listing doesn't specifically mention that this is related to Kinect or Xbox 360, the job requestor links back to the "Upper Body Image Tagger" on Microsoft's Windows.Net site.

Kotaku reached out to Microsoft earlier today to get clarification and comment on whether Kinect is being tweaked with the help of Amazon Mechanical Turk users, but the company has not yet responded.


    Isn't that how the thing is supposed to work anyway?
    It compares skeletons with a couple of hundred known body positions and decides which is closest.

      Hey how about a message displayed at the beginning of every game that is intended to be played standing, telling the players not to be lazy jerks, to get off their arses and play the damn thing properly?

        Sorry James, that wasn't intended as a reply to you, just a general comment. My bad.

        I know my mate in his wheelchair will be happy to see a notice telling him to not be a lazy arse and get out of his chair. He is sure to stand up and move. After he falls down of course because his legs don't work.

    Am I the only one that thinks those should be in an art gallery? They look so...mesmerising.

    How about we all not buy this garbage to show microsoft we don't buy gimicky junk.
    It's like when a new iphone comes out, I feel like saying its a TELEPHONE and it's not much different from the last.
    Hi MS it's an expensive eyetoy with no good games! I'm ignoring it.

    I'm more excited for the technology of Kinect rather than it as a game add-on.

    It's quite and interesting piece of tech. especially with the things MS will integrate it with besides the Xbox.

    Its funny seeing gamers blabber on about the Move and Kinect on Kotaku and other gaming sites - but on tech sites a lot of the feedback is positive for these sorts of products cause of things it can do in this field but also in other areas.

    I've heard that the Kinect won't recognize people in wheelchairs. I know there isn't that big a market for wheelchair users but I'd love the chance to play video games again.
    Rehab hospitals have really taken to the Wii. They call it "Wii-hab", because it helps patients regain their coordination.
    Please consider my suggestion and thank you for your time.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now