At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft Research unveiled one of their latest projects called IllumiRoom. Like most of their ongoing technological marvels of the future this one is quite fascinating so perk up. Imagine you’re playing a video game–let’s say Halo 4–and all of a sudden the on-screen action extends beyond the confines of your TV set. In an instant the mysterious jungles of planet Requiem surround you and you feel as if you’re truly immersed inside the captivating game developed with precision by 343 Industries. Microsoft’s IllumiRoom attempts ”to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in allowing us to combine our virtual and physical worlds.”
So how does it all work? A peek behind the curtain reveals two devices: the pairing of a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector. “Our system uses the appearance and the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect’s sensors) to adapt projected visuals in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics.” Sounds simple now, doesn’t it? Unfortunately like most Microsoft Research projects IllumiRoom is only proof-of-concept, but with engineers working hard to make Kinect even more powerful and projectors keeping pace with high definition resolutions, the technology is there for this prototype to enter the marketplace. Let’s place IllumiRoom in the pile labeled “not if, but when.”
Watch Illumiroom perform its magic in the video embedded above; Microsoft ensures the action was “captured live and is not the result of any special effects added in post production.”
Microsoft shows off future tech including remote applications, transparent displays, augmented reality mirrors, and lag-free touch screens
The inventive minds at Microsoft Research and the company’s Applied Sciences Group are experimenting with advanced technologies to come up with new ways of computing and communicating for the future.
First up is “IllumiShare”, a camera-projector pair that enables remote people to share any physical or digital object on any surface. As you can see in the demonstration embedded above, with IllumiShare a simple Skype conversation can be transformed into an interactive workspace that can be manipulated by one or more persons. The applications for this are endless; this tech can allow for remote gameplay, as well as introduce new methods of remote teaching.
Jump after the break for more! (Click here for more…)
Star Wars fans and gamers alike have been waiting patiently for Microsoft to stamp an official release date for the movie themed hardware and software bundle. Well, the time has finally come. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, the bundle–which includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures–launches into the marketplace this spring on April 3. It is being valued at $449.99 and can be preordered today at Amazon and Gamestop. Take a gander at the sleek packaging above and mark your calendars appropriately.
[Via Major Nelson]
When Kinect for Xbox 360 launched in November 2010, it changed the way gamers interacted with their Xbox consoles and games just like Nintendo did with the Wii. Since its release, Kinect owners have taken the power into their own hands by hacking the motion-sensing peripheral to make it function in all kinds of ways. Microsoft quickly took notice and announced in the fall that they would release an SDK to allow for more innovation with Kinect. Microsoft shares its plan in a blog post:
With Kinect for Windows, we are investing in creating a platform that is optimized for scenarios beyond the living room, and delivering new software features on an ongoing basis… In addition to support for Windows 7 and the Windows 8 developer preview (desktop apps only), Kinect for Windows will also support gesture and voice on Windows Embedded-based devices and will enhance how data is captured and accessed within intelligent systems across manufacturing, retail and many more industries. We are building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings and we have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable.
Kinect for Windows hardware will be made available on February 1 in twelve countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK )and will sell for $249.99 in “limited quantities at first.” The accompanying SDK and developer tools will be free. Preorder today at Amazon and let your imagination run wild.
We all know the Kinect motion sensor was created to work in tandem with Microsoft’s video game console Xbox 360 to reinvent and enhance the gaming experience by “making you the controller.” But shortly after the device hit the market the open source community (read: hackers) cracked open the magical sensor and figured out ways to make it useful beyond the realm of gaming. Kinect hacks became so popular that I thought it’d be neat to highlight some of the most inventive ones in a post titled “Kinect, hacked” last December. Rather quickly Microsoft caught wind of all the amazing ways people have tinkered with their sensor and they shared plans to release a Kinect SDK into the wild that would give the general public official access to Kinect APIs and other developer tools. In a blog post today Microsoft executive Frank Shaw announced that the SDK is coming in 2012. In his own words:
To further fuel innovation and imagination, we will offer a Kinect for Windows commercial program early next year. We recognize the intense commercial interest in harnessing the capabilities of Kinect, and are working with a wide range of companies and developers to create a great set of tools and APIs. In fact, our commercial pilot program has already received more than 200 applications from top companies in more than 20 countries spanning 25 unique industries, eager to explore the possibilities of Kinect beyond Xbox 360!
It’s really great that Microsoft is acknowledging the open source tinkerers and giving them a means to further their creativity. Watch what the “Kinect Effect” has spawned over the last year in the video above. My favorite is the application created for hospitals in Spain enabling surgeons to scroll through medical images in the operating room with gestures so they could avoid the need to rescrub. Pure genius. To see more related videos head over to Microsoft’s Kinect Effect website.
Let’s start with the coolest bit of news straight from Redmond. Microsoft is pushing out a Star Wars-themed Xbox 360 bundle to celebrate to release of Star Wars Kinect. The Xbox 360 Limited Edition Kinect Star Wars bundle includes an R2-D2-themed Xbox 360 console with custom sounds, a C-3PO-themed golden wireless controller, a white Kinect sensor, a 320GB HDD, a wired headset, and copies of Star Wars Kinect and Kinect Adventures. The bundle’s price: $449.99. It’s available for preorder today, comes out this fall.
Next up is the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth. The sleek new headset connects to the Xbox through the console’s standard radio frequencies, and since it packs Bluetooth functionality it can double as a regular old BT headset and pair with your mobile phone and computer. The communication device goes on sale early November 2011 and will cost $59.99. Jump after the break to watch Major Nelson give a quick tour of the packaging.
Also announced was the Xbox 360 Media Remote. Media playback controls include play/pause, skip forward, fast forward, skip back, fast back, and display to control DVD, CD, or streamed media. The TV controls include power on/off, volume up/down, mute and TV input. The Xbox 360 Media Remote’s menu navigation controls include A, B, X, Y buttons, D-pad navigation, back and select. Live TV, if provided on the Xbox 360 by your TV service provider, can also be controlled with the remote. It’ll cost $19.99 when it comes out alongside the wireless headset this November.
And last, but certainly not least, is Avatar Kinect. Explains Microsoft: “Avatar Kinect is a new social entertainment experience that brings your avatar to life. Avatar Kinect captures your facial expressions and voice so when you smile, nod or speak, your avatar does the same. Invite up to seven friends to join you in 24 imaginative virtual stages – discuss the latest celebrity gossip or news on the Talk Show Stage, try out your hysterical comedy routine on the Performance Stage, or wager who will win the big game in the Sports Party Stage.” The experience gets even more social as the Kinect sensor can record your sessions and you can upload them to KinectShare.com, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. After the break you’ll find a short video demonstrating the software’s abilities.
Also out is Kinect Sparkler, a fun Kinectified app that “transforms simple finger painting into an aerial light show” using advanced finger tracking. Kinect Avatar and Kinect Sparkler are out now; the former is free to all Xbox LIVE Gold members (it is unlocked for all Xbox LIVE members (Free or Gold) to enjoy from 7/25 to 9/8) and the latter costs 240 Microsoft Points. Both can be found in Kinect Fun Labs section in Xbox LIVE.
Teenagers are social creatures; it is known. That’s why Microsoft is experimenting with Kinect to bring interactive and socially-inclined advertisements to Xbox 360. Such ads that take advantage of gestures and speech captured by Kinect are being called “natural user interface ads,” or NUads for short. Imagine you spy an ad for Coke that piques your interest. Say aloud “Xbox, tweet” and the console will automagically send out a short message and link to the ad to all your Twitter followers. New scenario: You see a spot for Adidas that’s advertising a promotional event and want to learn more about it. Simply say “Xbox, more” and instantly you’ll receive an email with more information about the sponsored event. Here’s another: You see an ad for NBC’s The Voice and you can’t miss tomorrow night’s new episode. Speak “Xbox, schedule” and the console will send a reminder to your Windows Phone and you’ll be alerted before the episode begins. Watch the video embedded above to see all these voice commands and gestures in action. Others include “Xbox, near me” and voting for your preferences by waving your hand.
Ads suck in general. But new innovation like this might just inject a spark of excitement into the viewing experience. Social interactivity is all the rage these days; add these elements to advertisements and perhaps the act of watching them will be less painful.
Today Microsoft kicked off E3 2011 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. So many game trailers, demos, and Xbox Live and Dashboard updates to talk about. Ready, set, bullet points!
- The press conference got started with a demo of Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It is described as being “the biggest, most exciting and epic Call of Duty ever.” I can confidently back that statement up. MW3 downloadable content will be available first on Xbox 360. Due out November 8, 2011.
- Crystal Dynamics showed off the Tomb Raider reboot. Lara Croft is getting down and dirty in this game that shares style and gameplay with Uncharted. The developers explained that the game reveals “how an ambitious 21-year-old Lara Croft becomes a hardened survivor.” Due out Fall 2012.
- EA Sports president (and former Xbox honcho) Peter Moore announced that four sports games will support Kinect this year and they are Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Madden NFL, FIFA, and Mass Effect 3. ME3 utilizes Kinect with voice control. Kinect’s built-in mic will pick up your commands. RPG decisions and tactical team controls can be carried out by your voice. Due out March 6, 2012.
- Next up was Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. This title will also feature Kinect support, but this time it’s hand and arm gestures in addition to voice control. You can create various weapons by exploding them into their small parts using Minority Report-style gestures. This demo really wowed the crowed. Voice commands like “optimize for long range” will also piece together a weapon for you. The weapon customization process with Kinect looks very fluid, fast, and super cool. Ubisoft announced that all future titles in the Tom Clancy franchise will support Kinect in some way or other.
- The Dashboard is getting yet another facelift. Somehow Microsoft has made it cleaner and more streamlined. It was built from the ground up specifically with Kinect voice in mind. For example, saying “Xbox, music” will bring you directly to the Music section. The new UI contains the following sections: Home, Social, Live TV, Video, Games, Music, Apps, and Settings. That’s right–I said live TV. Microsoft is forging new partnerships to bring live television to Xbox LIVE in the US and around the world, adding to their current partnerships with Sky TV in the UK, Canal Plus in France, and FOXTEL in Australia. TV listings and a DVR manager will be accessible from the Dashboard. Also coming to Xbox is YouTube, UFC, and Bing search. UFC president Dana White came out to show off the interactive UFC content. You can call fights and compare results with your friends. “You say it, Xbox finds it” is the new Bing motto when it comes to searching for and discovering content on the console. “Xbox, Bing, X-Men” will prompt the console to bring up all games and videos (including movies and TV shows) related to your query.
- The following upcoming games are Xbox 360 exclusives: Ice-T joined Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski for a demo of Gears of War 3 (due out September 20, 2011); Crytek’s Ryse will take advantage of Kinect as you violently slash your way past enemies in Rome; To celebrate Halo’s 10 year anniversary a remastered version of the original game will release November 15, 2011 and it’s called Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (co-op over Xbox Live and classic multiplayer maps included); Turn 10 Studio’s Forza Motorsport 4 releases October 11, 2011 with Top Gear content and Kinect support for voice and headtracking; Head of Lionhead Studios Peter Molyneux hopped on stage to reveal the next Fable subtitled The Journey (this game too will come packed with heavy support for Kinect, due out in 2012); Minecraft is coming to support Kinect this winter; other exclusives include Kinect-based kids games Kinect Disneyland Adventures and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, and Kinect Star Wars.
- Microsoft’s bearded man with designer shades Kudo Tsunoda came out to show off the latest updates of his pet project the Kinect. He announced that Kinect Fun Labs is a permanent addition to the Xbox Live Dashboard and it will serve as a portal for the developer community to share their latest Kinect innovations. Three Labs games were shown off. Kinect Me will capture your face and clothing to create an avatar that looks just like you; in Kinect Sparkler you make poses for the camera, it captures them, and then you can use your fingers to draw sparkling lines of light in the image in three dimensions (you can manipulate the image to make it appear as if it contains two layers); Kinect Googly Eyes allows you to scan real-life tangible objects using Kinect and them manipulate their actions on-screen (at the conference a plush toy was scanned without issue). Kinect Fun Labs is accessible today to all Xbox Live members.
- More Kinect games coming to Xbox include: Kinect Sports Season 2 (baseball, skiing, golf, darts, tennis, football); Dance Central 2 (which now features a campaign mode, voice controls, and a revamped Break it Down mode, and simultaneous multiplayer dancing…plus all songs from the original an be imported into the sequel).
- And then came the “dawn of a new trilogy for Xbox 360″…it’s Halo 4! A brief teaser trailer was played. Master Chief returns Holiday 2012.
And that was the Microsoft press conference. Though most of the game trailer and demos were stimulating, the overall presentation was lacking in explosive, heart-stopping content. The Dashboard update is nice, the Xbox exclusives are impressive, and the push for Kinect is full speed ahead. It will certainly be interesting to see developers make new and exciting uses of the Kinect peripheral; Microsoft seems to be goading developers into incorporating it into their games somehow. Voice control seems overly gimmicking, but at least new approaches are being made to interactivity. And I gotta say, ending the event with a tease at the birth of a new Halo trilogy was a nice touch.
I attended the press conference this morning, so make sure you check out the pictures I snapped in the gallery below!
We all knew it was coming, and now it’s finally here. Hulu Plus is now available to enjoy on Xbox 360. Microsoft joins Sony in becoming the second video games console to support access to Hulu’s collection of TV shows and movies. Now check this: Courtesy of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky (ya’ll remember the Sasquatch?), all Xbox LIVE members (that includes paying Gold subscribers and free Silver members) will be able to access the entire Hulu Plus collection on their consoles for one week, specifically from April 29 through May 6. Setup is simple. Download the Hulu Plus application on your Xbox 360 and you’ll be instructed to enter a code at hulu.com/plus/unlock. After giving Hulu your name and email address (no credit card required!), you’re all set. Free access to Hulu’s mega-collection of popular TV shows and movies from the Criterion Collection right at your fingertips. No, really; Kinect support is live at launch. Check out some stills of Hulu on Xbox in action below and begin your free trial before it’s too late. Once May 6 passes, you’ll have to be an Xbox Live Gold member ($50/year) and a Hulu Plus subscriber ($7.99/month) to continue accessing the content.
[Via HuluBlog](Click here for more…)
The next time you load up Netflix on your Xbox 360 you’ll be required to download and install a free update for the video streaming application. This latest update brings Kinect support to Netflix; you can use hand gestures and voice commands to browse a library of TV shows and movies and control video playback. But there’s a catch, unfortunately. The Kinect-enhanced Netflix menu only allows you to browse the “Suggestions for You” section that shows you content based on your viewing habits and instant queue. You cannot use Kinect to access the other Netflix sections; if the software does not produce worthy suggestions it advises: “For more choices and search, use your controller.” You can’t even say “Xbox, search Arrested Development.” Bummer, I know. In time hopefully Microsoft will let loose another update that brings more functionality to this new Netflix/Kinect partnership. Full PR after the break.
We’ve seen our fair share of awesome Kinect hacks, but none of them compare to what you’re about to witness here. What happens when the Xbox 360 motion sensor is programmed to become self-aware? Total destruction, that’s what. Go ahead and categorize this is an epic fail. It is a machine, so what did you expect to happen?
Microsoft sells 10 million Kinect sensors, Guinness names it “fastest selling consumer electronics device”
Since landing on store shelves November 4, Microsoft has sold 10 million Kinect sensors worldwide. In addition, Kinect drove significant game sales with more than 10 million standalone Kinect games sold worldwide to date. It’s true–the sensor does come bundled with a free game called Kinect Adventures; but notice that the company specifies so many standalone Kinect games have been sold, so they’re not cheating us with that number. Guinness World Records has stepped in to name Kinect for Xbox 360 the “fastest selling consumer electronics device.” We all saw this feat coming; 1 million sensors were sold during its first 10 days on the market and then over 2.5 million of them were reported to have been sold in 25 days. To say this motion accessory is a wild success is quite the understatement. Sony, your move.
Microsoft has announced a new Kinect-specific update for Xbox 360 owners. Here’s out the makers explain it: “With Avatar Kinect, you can control your avatar’s facial expression, head, and arm movements. As you talk, frown, smile, or scowl, your voice and facial expressions are enacted by your avatar, bringing your avatar to life!” In other words, the update will give you a more detailed level of control over your avatar. Right now the Kinect captures basic movements, such as arm flails, moving side-to-side, jumping, and ducking. With Avatar Kinect, the sensor will be able to recognize a new slate of physical actions. Microsoft is highlighting a virtual hangout where you can meet up with up to seven friends and converse with them using your avatars. You’ll be able to select from 15 virtual environments. Think of it as Wii’s Mii Plaza, except this space will allow for broader interaction (detailed avatar movements performed by you, voice support). Avatar Kinect will hit Xbox 360s later this spring. Look after the break to see it in action.
In related Kinect news… At CES 2011 Microsoft announced that they sold 8 million Kinect sensors worldwide during its first 60 days on the market; they sold 3 million more devices than they had predicted they would during that launch window. More news… In a spring update, Hulu Plus will be joining Netflix, expanding users’ options when it comes to TV and movie content. In addition, the two services will be Kinect-compatible.
Since its North American release date on November 4, Microsoft’s Kinect controller-free motion accessory has proved to be a boon for the open source community. Over the last month or so I’ve collated the most intriguing Kinect hacks and today is the day I’ve decided to let them live free inside this post. Tinkerers are constantly throwing up their latest creations online, so expect Kinect, hacked to become an ongoing series.
First up we have Yankeyan‘s Super Mario Bros. Kinect hack. Using OpenKinect drivers and NES emulation he’s figured out how to make the plumber’s on-screen movements mimic his physical jumps and arm flails. It doesn’t match up perfectly, but that doesn’t make the hack any less impressive.
Now go on, hop after the break to browse oodles of Kinect hack videos; I promise they are all super inventive! (Click here for more…)
Last we heard out of the video game giants Sony had shipped 1 million Move controllers in one month, and Microsoft had sold 1 million Kinect sensors in ten days. Post-Black Friday, the companies were eager to share the latest sales figures for these products. As of November 2010 Sony has shipped over 4.1 million units worldwide, and Microsoft has sold over 2.5 million Kinect sensors globally in 25 days. Now bear in mind that there’s a notable difference between units shipped and units sold. Unlike Microsoft, Sony is not reporting actual sales results; instead they are reporting the number of units shipped to retailers. A Sony rep says that the company won’t “disclose [their] exact sell-through number”, and that kind of chips away at their impressive and somewhat misleading stat. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the new motion peripherals are happily riding the Wii’s coattails this holiday season.
Kinect for Xbox 360 released earlier this month. And when new super cool tech such as the motion sensing Kinect hits the mass market, you expect some astute attempts at hacking and laughable attempts at practicing to hit the interwebs at some point. This very post presents you with these videos. Let’s start with the hackers. Visualization researcher Oliver Kreylos has discovered a way to turn the Kinect into a 3D video capture tool. He describes the hack: “By combining the color and the depth image captured by the Microsoft Kinect, one can project the color image back out into space and create a “holographic” representation of the persons or objects that were captured.” Kreylos’ demonstrating is embedded above (left); is your mind blown yet? A man who goes by AlexP managed to hack the Kinect’s built in accelerometer in an interesting way; check out his batch of demos after the break.
And on to the wacky EPIC FAIL videos you’ve been oh-so patiently waiting for. Or maybe you haven’t and you already watched my personal favorite Kinect fail in the video embedded above (right). Salivating for more embarrassing moments like this? You know where to find ‘em. Ahem, they’re sitting after the break.
Update (11/17): Hacker Chris Rojas has managed to make the Kinect communicate with an iPad. Click here to see the action.
Today Microsoft is happy to report that it sold one million Kinect for Xbox 360 units worldwide during the product’s first ten days on store shelves. Before the Kinect launched on November 4, Microsoft raised its worldwide sales forecast from 3 million to 5 million sensors sold by year-end; according to today’s official press release (which is posted after the break for your perusal) the company is still on pace to hit that higher mark before 2010 closes. President of the Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick shares his excitement and reiterates what I just told you: “We are appreciative of the response we have seen from consumers that has culminated in sales of more than 1 million units in the first 10 days on the market for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is a great start to the holiday season, and we will continue to work with our retailer partners to keep pace with high demand and deliver against our plan to sell more than 5 million Kinect sensors worldwide by the end of this year.” I know what you’re thinking. How does this compare to the PlayStation Move sales recently reported? Well, it’s hard to say. And that’s because Sony did not post units sold; rather they publicly announced that they shipped over one million units during the product’s first month on sale. We’ll definitely have a better look at head-to-head sales figures when the companies decide to share post-holiday data.
Here we go! Microsoft has officially begun the marketing blitz for Kinect. At the center of all these commercials is the philosophy that you don’t have to have any previous knowledge of playing video games; you are the controller, so it all comes naturally. Look after the break for two more ads featuring flailing children in large, brightly lit living spaces plus an extended commercial highlighting Xbox Live with Kinect functionality.
With the launch of Microsoft’s controller-less motion capture accessory Kinect for Xbox 360 just around the corner (it releases November 4, people!) Xbox’s Major Nelson has spilled the deets surrounding the sizable launch lineup. Of the 17 new Kinect-enabled games, 4 of them come from Microsoft Game Studios and have that Wii-casual edge to them. These include Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, Kinect Joy Ride, and Kinectimals. Other notable launch titles includes Sonic Free Riders, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 The Videogame, Harmonix’s Dance Central, and Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved. Look after the break for the entire “portfolio” of games, including pricing (ranges from $39.99-$49.99) and release dates (all available during launch month).
Holiday shoppers will have oodles of options to choose from when decision time comes to purchase Microsoft’s gesture-based motion tracking camera Kinect. In addition to the standalone version ($149.99) and Xbox 360 4GB bundle ($299.99), Kinect will also ship with the higher capacity 250GB Xbox 360. At a whopping $399.99 you will get the new “whisper quiet” shiny, black, and slim Xbox 360, Kinect, and a copy of a Kinect launch title, Kinect Adventures!. The two bundles will ship on Kinect launch day, November 4.