E3 is finally far enough behind us that I can start to make sense of it. Taken all at once – it pretty much sounded like a bunch of ungodly screaming occasionally punctuated by the word “transfarring” (which isn't even a real word). You tried to roll with the punches, I'm sure – to stand before News Godzilla without fleeing while shouting something in badly lip-synced Japanese – but it eventually broke you. So, what happens next? Now that the news/preview/interview barrage dust has finally settled, what does it all mean? Well, since I did one of these things last year and I'm nothing if not a slave to habit, here are a few thoughts on this year's show.
Update: This post originally didn't mention that it was Techie-Buzz.com that originally broke this story. Our apologies!
Microsoft spent E3 basically rubbing the Kinect in everybody's faces. The future of gaming lies in voice control and real-time head tracking, Microsoft proclaimed from its keynote pulpit. Bing Search! Kinect Labs! Bossing your squadmates around in Mass Effect 3! We were starting to think that the goliath from Redmond actually wanted to push gaming into the future.
Then a US trademark filing brought us back to reality. It's not about the future – it's about the cash.
When the Kinect first launched last November, gamers were (to put it charitably) a bit skeptical. Here was a device with incredible technological potential, and the most impressive game that came out with it was a dance simulator.
Still, the Kinect has become a bona fide hit, selling more than eight million units in the first 60 days alone and being named the “fastest-selling consumer electronics device” of all time by Guinness World Records. But more importantly, the software problem has been solved. Not by Microsoft, whose Kinect releases have been few and far between, but by the ever-growing legion of hackers creating innovative tech demos and applications for Kinect on the PC.
Microsoft just can't catch a break. The tech giant reported their first quarter results, and they managed to beat analyst expectations. Microsoft had revenue of $16.43 billion for the which is a 13% increase from a year ago. Income was $5.23 billion, or about 61 cents per share. So why is Microsoft feeling down about these admittedly huge numbers? The market isn't impressed. Redmond is seeing stock dip 2% in after-hours trading.
We're still a long, long ways off from living out a Minority Report lifestyle, but the next time you turn on your Xbox 360 console, you'll be prompted to accept an update that adds even more razzle dazzle to your Kinect, if you have one. The update adds Kinect support for Netflix, so you no longer have to grab your controller to sort through titles and fire up movies in your queue.
It seems like every few weeks Microsoft thumps its chest over how many Kinect motion control cameras it's sold, and now we're being told that number is 10 million. If there was any remaining doubt that Kinect sales have been an "overwhelming success," as Microsoft put it, the rapid rise to double digit sales earned kudos from the Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. So much for the naysayers.
It turns out Microsoft was more than a little modest when it forecast worldwide sales of 5 million Kinect units in 2010. The actual number was much higher, with Microsoft selling 8 million units to retailers by January 4, 2011. The sell-through to consumers was 6.35 million units, according to data provided by market research firm iSuppli.
When the Kinect first launched, Microsoft seemed unsure how to respond to the dedicated modding community that sprang up around the Xbox peripheral. Happily, they decided to accept the inevitable, if not fully embrace it. But now we have word from Microsoft itself that a Kinect SDK for Windows will be dropping this spring.
Microsoft showed off its Kinect sensor working in concert with Windows Phone 7 at the recently concluded Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But what about other smartphone platforms? Well, since it’s Kinect, there surely must be a hack for that. As it turns out, there is indeed one.
YouTube user HirotakaSter posted a video of an Armadillo 500 FX Android tablet receiving video feed from a Kinect sensor. According to the video’s description, he pulled it off using openFrameworks. Now that there is a hack, all we need are a few apps for that.