Pre-Kinect, Microsoft Had "Exotic" Controllers

In 2010, Microsoft's Kinect is a motion-sensing camera that requires no control pad. You are, as the marketing goes, the controller. In the beginning, though, things weren't so fancy.

According to a big write-up on the history of Kinect on Wired, in 2007, Xbox boss Don Mattrick had called for a "reimagining of the way we interact" with consoles. Something beyond the decades-old video game standard of using a device in your hand to control something on a TV screen. Combining various different areas of Microsoft research, from speech recognition to facial recognition, that call to arms would eventually become Kinect.

What's interesting, though, is that while some parts of Kinect had to be drawn from parts of Microsoft completely unrelated to the Xbox - the facial recognition came from the company's China offices, for example - the Xbox team's own R&D outfit in Redmond, Washington had already been working on "exotic gyroscopic and accelerometer-based controller prototypes".

In other words, their research wasn't the result of Mattricks decision. They'd been designing them well before that. Which begs the question; had Kinect not come together as the result of all these various pieces of Microsoft technology, would Microsoft had gone down the same road as Sony with its Move peripheral, and make their motion controller a physical device? Who knows, maybe the Kinect decision killed off just such a device...

Kinect for Xbox 360: The inside story of Microsoft's secret 'Project Natal' [Wired]


    The article is really interesting from a tech-development standpoint. It also makes me want to punch people who say "lolol the wii already did it" in the face because they have no idea of the complexity involved. Kinect should be praise for the R&D involved alone, in comparison the Move is essentially the same as when you see behind-the-scenes of movie special effects and you see the guys walking around in black costumes with pingpong balls stuck all over their body to capture their movements.

    You know, I kinda wish Microsoft had gone this route. I mean, the camera technology is mighty impressive, but you can only make games so deep when the only method of input it flailing your limbs. Adding small optional controllers to hold in either hand with buttons would have gone a long way. Although I suppose there's nothing stopping Microsoft from doing that in the future.

    I'll probably only get Kinect when they start incorporating it in subtler ways into the games I already play. Like turning your head slightly while keeping your eyes on the screen to look around in a racing game, or using hand guetures and signals to to make squad commands (like in real life) in FPS.

    That's where Kinet's appeal lies for me.

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