Why Are We Still Waiting For Kinect Voice Control In Australia?

Why Are We Still Waiting For Kinect Voice Control In Australia?

Back in November last year, Australians were disappointed to discover that Kinect would not be launching with voice control in Australia, one of the key components of the Kinect device. Speaking to Adam Pollington, Xbox Category Manager in Australia, we were told to expect voice control to be implemented “early next year… that means roughly a late February/early March launch.” It is now June. So where is our Kinect voice control – why are we still waiting?

The silence from Microsoft has been deafening. Despite constant inquiries we have yet to hear any further details on when, of if, Australians will receive voice control for Kinect.

We decided to investigate a little further.

We received word, from someone who actually took part in the testing for Kinect Voice control, on precisely when the testing took place, and what was involved.

The tester, who wished to remain anonymous due to an NDA signed before taking part in the tests, revealed that a company called Appen invited him to test out voice control for Kinect on May 13, 2010, involving him in a series of voice controlled checks along with group of other members of the public.

Appen is a group involved in implementing voice and language technology. According to its website, Appen has performed “speech and language data collections in more than 80 languages across 40+ countries around the world.”

We called Appen to discuss the details, and Appen was happy to confirm that, yes, it was involved in data collection and language testing for Microsoft and Kinect. But the most surprising piece of information released was the fact that Appen actually finished testing voice control for Australians in November 2010.

Which begs the question – why are we still waiting for voice control to be implemented for Australian Kinect users?

Our source confirmed that the Australian voice tech for Kinect was working perfectly back when he tested the service in May 2010, so we fail to understand why – more than a year later – we still have no official timeline on precisely when we can expect a patch to be released to the public.

Voice control was an advertised part of the Kinect package. It’s one of the reasons why Australians, in their droves, purchased the device when it was released last year. The tech is there, testing was completed seven months ago.

What is the hold up Microsoft?


  • Maybe the XBox team in the US can’t understand your questions due to your insane accent Mark. Perhaps that’s the whole reason, you talked to one of them and now they think they need to redesign the whole recognition database.

    • I’ve said this before. I did this testing personally earlier than November IIRC. They payed me 30$ and sent me in there and said they would be doing teenagers in a couple months.

      So the reason why is because Microsoft only had like 3 guys working on it and people who they were recruiting with flyer ads.

        • I can’t say for sure, I would say October. When I was there it was just three foreign guys in an office and a kinect and a couch for recording.

          They were doing 5-10 and 11-15 in seperate rooms.

          But yeah I don’t remember enough to say the exact date sorry.

  • Seriously. Voice control was a big part of the reason I bought one. We have been pretty patient, of what pretty much amounts to a Trade Practices violation.
    Get off your bum Microsoft, and let us use what we paid for.

    • Voice control was one of the main reasons I was going to buy Kinect, because I’m not really interested in any of the current games. Once I found out that the voice control was going to be implemented sometime after release, I held off on my purchase. Thankfully I did, because this is getting ridiculous.

    • I don’t really care that much about the voice functions of the Kinect, but what you’ve mentioned here bugs me to no end. They’re not delivering what you paid for and nobody cares because it’s just an entertainment item.
      We see it constantly with online games. If a player hosted action game doesn’t have local match making then you can’t advertise online functionality on the box of the Australian version. There’s no room to dance around the issue. To say it has online functionality is just lying. Hell, I’d consider it dishonest not to go out of your way to inform potential buyers that they’re getting an incomplete version of the game.

      It feels like an over reaction to demand any sort of legal action, but we’re paying more for already high priced products that are missing major advertised features.

    • Wasn’t there like an dashboard update like a week ago? When they said you could use paypal, but it seems that was for americans too…
      Just create a new account on xbox.com, use an address like in california(coz thats the only postcode i know -90210) and then get your xbox, say recover account, and get your american one.
      I’ve done this, and the voice controls work fine, even with my half englsh/aussie accent!
      they dont even need to change much, thats whats so lame about MS 🙁

      • That was the disc format update, didn’t have much to do with dash itself. Odd’s are you might see it in the next proper upgrade post E3.

  • As a window’s phone user, I share everyone who owns a kinect’s pain, as Microsoft seem to ignore anyone who isn’t in the US when it comes to their best sales worthy features

  • My US account understands my Aussie accent perfectly fine when I use it – don’t understand the delay at all.
    I also second the pain of a WM7 phone user – in the US the voice control can do so much more…

  • Xbox Australia are a bunch of muppets who obviously have no pulling power with their International counterparts and Microsoft’s Xbox Division in the US couldn’t give two shits about anyone outside of their country.

    Been saying it for years. They still haven’t proved me wrong! =P

  • As a government employee I can tell you that the only way things happen is with public embarresment.
    Any chance we could get this republished on some of the international games blogs?

  • Blimey, maybe it’s coz our accents are so bloody outrageous!! They need to make sure it’s all ridgey didge before they chuck it up!


    • I can’t pronounce your name, mate… do ya mind if I call ya Bruce?

      Just so it doesn’t get confusin.

    • Bloody strewth, guv’na (oh, that last one is british, huh)!
      I reckin’ they’re bloody drongos for coppin’ out on givvin us that doovalackey. Sense o’ responsibility is as dry as a dead dingos’ donger!


    • I think your bang on cobba and I’m not pissing in your pocket.

      Not sayin Kinect is about as useful as tits on bull cos its better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick but fair dinkum MS Oz couldn’t organise a f*** in a brothel with a fist full of fifties.

  • It’s a shame Kinect didn’t have the voice recognition when when it launched here, that was the main thing apart from it’s amazing technology. It has sold so many units! Come on Microsoft give Aussies support.

  • Clearly we need to find someone who Excels at getting the Word on the Frontpage, so MS can open their Windows and just how much of the market Access this Outlook will cause them to loose.


    Seriously though, wtf. If it’s done..

  • I was considering buying one of these again lately, I’d assumed that would’ve been working by now.

    Considering that was the main thing I wanted it for no Kinect for me.

  • Changing your location within the Xbox settings to US allows voice control even with an AU Live account. Been using voice control perfectly since launch.

    • Only problem is, you only get limited functionality, as you have to disconnet from LIVE to make it work, soon as you reconnect, it’s bye bye speech again.

      Why the hell should we have to make a foreign account just to use something that DOES work? Screw my friends list, gamer score and achievements, save games and DLC etc and my gold membership huh? Yeah good idea, just so I can use speech……..

      MS and companies like Crytek are just showing me that games companies seem to be able to get away with a lot more than any other industry out there can.

      It’s bullshit. Maybe we should all band together and sue for compo, that’s the sort of English Americans DO understand.

  • Nice Mark… that is the only new info I have heard about this for a very long time. The reality is that even if it was still a little buggy, they should at the VERY least (A) make some sort of formal statement to people who have, as is the case a lot with M$ stuff these days, paid full price for a portion of the product’s functionality and (B) Just activate it and say it’s in Beta or something. Everyone knows it works already just by switching locale offline…

  • Yeah in the eyes of MS, Australia doesn’t even exist.

    Even the xbox forums, they’ve just given the whole forums a face lift and pretty much deleted all the old stuff, and started again. Most countries got their region specific forums straight away… Australia? No where to be seen, and not a word about it 🙁

  • Maybe given how many foreign languages are spoken in homes in Australia, they’re waiting for all the major languages to have coverage before they roll it out, so as to avoid looking discriminatory?

    • Now just think, this is a device made by an American company, America has about 400 million people from a wide variety of races. Multiculturalism isn’t a factor here.

  • Who cares if it works or not?
    Just so you can tell the thing to turn off and on?
    Pressing the button on the controller too hard?

    Sarcasm aside and knowing the ‘delivering on what they promised’ argument. It’s a gimmick idea on a gimmick toy.

    Anyone actually use kinect anymore?

    I know all about being hyped up then let down by gimmicks, i own a Wii.

    • Actually I’m pretty sure that turning it on and off is the one thing you *can’t* do with voice commands. The voice recognition doesn’t work when the system is off, so you can’t command it to turn on. And because of that, they decided to disable the ability to turn it off, because being able to turn it off gives people the impression they should also be able to turn it on that way. At least, that’s what I vaguely recall when they were first showing it off. Last decade.

    • If it was actually integrated through the whole dashboard of the 360 it would be great – I want to stand infront of my tv when its off, turn it on and access my media center and play something without a remote – that would be useful. Until then its only function is really that you can start a kinect game by waving..great.

      As for your Wii comment, is it really still ‘cool’ to pay out the Wii? I figured “gamers” had moved on by now. Wii was awesome – when it came out many years ago it did something completely new, and delivered on its hype. What Nintendo has failed to do over time is continue to provide quality first party software at a reasonable rate.

    • Finding faults in blog posts is a sometimes hobby of mine but you must being able to take it too. Well played NegativeZero.

      Markd: I also enjoy the Wii, especially the on-rail shooters, Res Evil 4, Zelda, SMG1&2 etc. I just cant believe how ‘waggle annoyed’ i got playing it, compared to every other Nintendo console i own.

    • I was playing my Kinect the other night dancing up a sweat on Dance Central, actually. It’s so user-friendly that you can pick a game up months later and get right back into it.

  • What’s more ridiculous is if I switch my 360 to a US xbox live account I can use voice control. I’ve been able to do this since launch because brace yourself…. I believe the US and AU for the most part speak the same language!

    This is really down to logistics of removing voice commands ‘xbox netflix’ etc that are specific to the US rather than language issues surely. It just screams CBF issues on Microsoft’s part to implement this for AU.

      • I saw you posted this on Xbox.com forums DENAz. Haha, I would do the same. We might be able to realy get the word out too if those forums weren’t in such a shambles…

        But as I said there, I’ll say here.

        I could imagine, maybe, that Microsoft might launch this at or post E3. Like a big an announcement, “Avatar Kinect and Multi-region language support will be going live, NOW.”

        Considering they launched a redesigned Xbox from the previous E3, it’s not too farfetched.

        If not though, I will feel the need to invoke the more disturbing side of our seemingly complicated accent with a Hansonesque,

        “Please explain.”

  • IMO, Microsoft jumped on the whole motion control thing too late and as a consequence, their support for Kinect is lack luster at best.

    No doubt they’ll pump it up again at E3 to try and drive some of their first party products, but that will be it.

  • Who cares about voice control, like I wanna scream “Skittles” like a wanka, not to mention looking like a wanka talking to my Xbox.

    Controls FTMFW!

  • I still get a laught out of knowing that the original mad max had to be dubbed becuase americans couldnt understand what mel and the cast were saying xD

    • Pretty sad when Australians, British, Irish, Scottish, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, and basically every English speaking Western nation can understand each other including Americans, but as soon as you speak to an American they say “Speak English”

      Most annoying gamers on xbox live. All they can say it seems is “speak English” “Niggas” and “fag”

      Maybe we aren’t ghetto enough for them?

      They’re a rude sad ignorant folk.

  • I reckon they’re putting millions into figuring out the dif between pommies n Aussies cause well over half of em don’t know the dif!

  • If Microsoft can’t make a console that isn’t defective, don’t expect them to release this any time soon.

    This is false advertising, too.

  • They’re probably waiting until they’ve got a large number of supported locales and will then release them all en masse. Which would be why they can’t give a definitive date – they don’t know how much longer the data collection/processing will take for the other planned localisations.

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