Rumor: Kinect Tracking Receiving Major Updates

Despite being an incredibly impressive piece of hardware, Kinect is nothing without its software, and the tracking experienced at launch is certainly not the end of the road in terms of capabilities. There was even disparity between the performance of first party launch software, with Kinect Sports more responsive than Kinect Adventures by about 100ms.

Naturally, we expect developers will have got to grips with Kinect to a greater degree come the unveiling of the second wave of games at E3 next week, and a source at Eurogamer goes into quite some detail about what we can expect from Kinect software improvements for voice and facial recognition as well as full body skeletal tracking.

The Kinect camera operates at 640x480, but it is limited to 320x240 due to the bandwidth limitations of USB. Microsoft will now allow developers to turn off sound or depth, for example, to free up bandwidth and concentrate on sending out video at a higher resolution.

Microsoft are also improving the way Kinect tracks the human body. Currently Kinect tracks a 21 point skeleton 30 times a second, with each point being Kinect's best guess at what body part is in what location. It proved very accurate even in launch titles, with titles like Kinect Sports tracking the body admirably. Sitting down, however, lowers the certainty of Kinect's guesses as limbs overlap and becomes more contorted. This is where Kinect struggled and became less accurate, and as a result most launch games required the user to stand. Microsoft have apparently been working hard on improving seated play, and it will be improved via a small update soon.

Another of Kinect's current shortcomings is the tracking of finer detail, such as fingers. Eurogamers source claims that Microsoft are confident that Kinect will soon be able to track fingers, even to the point that it knows if you're pointing at the screen.

"The accuracy is actually pretty good", Eurogamer was told.

"They're doing some improvements on their libraries. All game designers are just working out how better to recognise gestures, when to throw data away, and when data might be dirty. That's going to happen with the second wave of games. Any Augmented Reality would look higher quality. The recognition on your body and gestures would be more accurate."

The second wave of games will perform much better than the launch titles and, according to another of Eurogamer's rumors, will focus heavily on the hardcore market with as many as 10 new non-sequel hardcore games to be unveiled at E3.

"So many games were rushed for launch and early release," said a source. "For everyone, it was like, this is a bit new and different. Everyone's starting to get into it now and say, hold on a second, we're going to design this one properly.

"I know internally at Microsoft there's a lot of work going in on how you can push it to the limit. You're going to see some pretty big improvements. The hardware is slightly more capable than the software. There are so many places it can be improved through clever software. Microsoft is doing its bit low level. Game designers are learning how to deal with this kind of data. Everything is going to be drastically improved through software."

It's unclear if Microsoft will go into detail about Kinect's software updates at E3, or if they'll let the games speak for themselves, but there is no doubt that Kinect's core functionality will evolve over time. With only 3 days to wait until Microsoft's E3 conference, it won't be long before we can finally get a glimpse at Kinect's future titles and improvements, and we'll be there to keep you up to date with the very latest!

Source: Eurogamer

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