According to reports from website co.design, Microsoft has ceased production of the Kinect camera. We have contacted Microsoft for confirmation and any official word but it does look like the end for the landmark camera.
The Kinect, originally called Project Natal, was created for the Xbox 360 and is regarded as very impressive technology. The voice recognition and camera with depth sensor entered the market in 2010. The camera scanned a room and mapped it as a 3D space to allow great tracking of the person or persons using it. The camera had a second iteration for the launch of the Xbox One.
The original demos for the camera and the voice recognition was impressive. Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux showed off the Project Milo ‘game’ at E3 in 2009 which showed an impressive demonstration of human interaction with a virtual avatar without the need for controls.
However, the games produced for use with the Kinect sensor rarely hit the same quality as the technology behind it. The series Kinect Sports games from Rare and the Dance Central games were highlights but licenced titles failed to impress. Kinect Star Wars and Fable The Journey (which took elements from Project Milo) struggled and other games that incorporated the Kinect were mostly voice command additions only.
The camera, much like the Wii, did a lot of work with fitness and inspired several games including UFC Personal Trainer and EA Sports Active. Games like Fruit Ninja and The Gunstringer added interesting titles but ultimately failed to catch on.
The camera was redesigned and packaged with the Xbox One at the launch of that console, but the lack of developer support has left it as a redundant device.
It’s probably no surprise that the technology will survive in the mixed reality experiments from Microsoft. The Hololens uses version 5 of the Kinect’s core sensor. The camera has also been used for other applications than gaming. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used the camera to map a room in 3D for robotics and allow the robot to interact with humans. The University of Minnesota has also used it to help diagnose disorders in children and many others use it for medical imaging. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory also used the devices with an Oculus Rift VR headset to manipulate a robotic arm.
But sadly it appears that its time as a gaming device and a commercially available device is at an end. Thanks for all the memories and good work you’ve done Kinect… Except for Kinect Star Wars, you can keep that one.