Kinect Dumbed Down To Save Money, Can't Read Sign Language

The patent for Microsoft's motion-sensing camera Kinect suggested that the device could understand American Sign Language. Well, it can't. At least, the version going on sale in November can't.

Microsoft has told Kotaku "We are excited about the potential of Kinect and its potential to impact gaming and entertainment. Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language."

So why did the patent suggest it could? Well, sources close to the evolution of Kinect's development tell us it's because the version of the hardware that'll be available later this year isn't as capable as the a previous iteration of the device

The original Kinect had a much higher resolution (over twice that of the final model's 320x240), and as such, was able to not only recognise the limbs of a player as the current model version can, but their fingers as well (which the current version can't). And when the hardware could recognise fingers, it would have been able to read sign language.

But that capability came at a cost, and while Microsoft had always intended Kinect to sell for $US150, "dumbing down" the camera would have meant that Microsoft wouldn't be losing as much money on each unit sold, an important point should Kinect prove to be a failure. So dumb it down they did, reducing the camera's resolution (which in turn reduced the number of appendages it'd have to track) and placing the burden for some of the device's processing on the console and not Kinect's own hardware.

This probably isn't the first time you've heard such a rumour, but this latest time at least explains why Kinect can't read sign language!


    It really annoys me how Natal used to be really capable and advanced, but then they took away the internal processor, and reduced the camera capabilities, pretty much destroying any chance that it will be easily incorporated into any hard-core games. The fact that the console now has to process the image rather than the Natal unit means that games will have to start development with Natal in mind, or suffer reduced graphics, and also with the crappy camera, hand signals cannot be used in a squad shooter for instance.

    Sure, all these things save cost, but before, the device had the capability to be accepted by the hardcore community as an advanced piece of tech. Now, it's just Eyetoy 2.0.

    Less appendages than on the patent? Hmm... probably a good choice, but it pulls the accuracy into doubt. I certainly won't get this on release; I'll need to see reviews and the like.

    Its dumbed down and its still $200? Whoa. This thing really is going to be the 32X of this generation.

    This does not inspire faith in the device

    I suppose it's a question of balancing a higher potential cost with the benefits that a higher resolution camera and internal processor would bring. It's too bad that Kinect is now relegated to casual gaming when it had such potential for many more detailed and complex tasks.

    I'm curious as to whether we'll actually hear anything GOOD about Kinect anytime soon?

      Things seem to have been getting worse ever since the name "Kinect" was revealed. Coincidence?

    Damnit, we were really hoping that Kinect would have that capability, we have been following it very closely as a communication device and also a rehabilitation aid for the injured and people with disabilities.
    It doesn't totally negate the device in that role, but this is still disappointing.

    320x240? As usual microsoft is shortsighted, their may be some small savings on the camera in the short term, but in a year a 640x480 camera would be so cheap as to be insignificant, and in the long haul it may cost them more to source low resolution cameras than higher res ones.

    Also, this unit could have happily transferred to their 'next' console, but now they have locked it squarely into this generation.

    motion control is a fad anyway. I wouldn't have been getting kinect as i don't have an xbox, but Im not getting move either.

    I was going to buy and Xbox 360 just to use this. Now, not so much!

    So Microsoft have cut corners in hope of saving their bottom line? BIG surprise there -__- why can't blizzard get into the console business, with their 'we won't release it until it's DONE' attitude?

      ‘we won’t release it until it’s DONE’

      The Duke Nukem Forever attitude?

    It's the apple model, release gimped device then continually improve it.

    I imagine when the successor to the 360 appears they can market the hell out of how much better the new one will be.

    Wiimote/MotionPlus = Kinect/KinectPlus

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