Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kinect Mini-Review and Looking Forward

Kinect is awesome – but far from  perfect. There are plenty of great reviews out there so rather than comment on what Kinect does right and an overview I am going to cut to the chase of what it needs to do better. I mostly bought the Kinect for the dashboard integration versus playing games (it does that quite well).

Dashboard Integration

The current dashboard experience is subpar at best. Overall I would give it a C+ with a future outlook of an A. It is too disjoint and not integrated with the rest of the dashboard. I am sure Microsoft is hard at work on the next update. Some of the glaring issues:

- Only the Kinect Hub responds to gestures and voice commands.

- Some voice commands leave you down paths where you have to start using the controller (wth?).

- The voice commands are too strict. More natural language options would be better. I shouldn’t have to say “Watch a movie” exactly as it is spelled on screen. “Browse movies” and “movies” should suffice.

- The gesture to “press” takes too long and if you are impatient like me a setting would be nice to decrease the hover time.

- The Zune Music and Video Kinect experiences feel disconnected from the whole and if you choose to use your controller at any point you have to get thrown back into the other Zune Music and Video apps.

- Navigating the menus is extremely slow compared to the controller, but this is subjective to a person’s taste. There is something liberating about not having to use the controller so there is a tradeoff here.

Cool things:

- Scrubbing the video – once you get the hang of it – feels very futuristic and is just plain cool

- Swiping through movie trailers and songs is fun and has elicited many oohs and ahhs from my friends

- Voice commands to play and pause a movie are great although I would like an option to

Even fixing all of the above issues wouldn’t make the Kinect as outstanding as it could be with respect to the Dashboard.

Making it a must have device

The following things should be  considered to make this the *must-have* device for every household.

- Let me turn the Xbox on or wake it up with my voice! How cool would that be?

“Hey xbox turn on.”

Better yet:

“Hey Xbox turn on and start playing music”

Better still:

“Hey Xbox start playing my hip-hop playlist”

- Custom gestures: I want to be able to define a gesture to jump to a certain area of the Dashboard

- Extended speech support: similar to above let me say almost anything and have the Xbox interpret it or find the best match. A menu could come up asking me for the closest matches.

- Let me use it to scan real-world objects to pimp out my avatar – a couple hacks have seemingly already done this

- Use the camera capabilities to skin the avatar with a real-world look and feel

- When I am home and online allow my Windows Phone to use the Kinect as a speaker phone

- Assuming Windows Phone someday gets a FaceTime component let me use Kinect Video Chat with Windows Phones

- Performance: This is really a request for the whole dashboard experience but it is very sluggish and then only makes the whole thing feel more disconnected

- Allow the camera to be viewable when I am away from home via a remote machine or the Windows Phone. It can double as a security device. (this is just icing)

- Let me browse the internet! Read the news, look at photos, etc. You just created a virtual iPad (albeit mounted on my wall).

I plan to update this post with more ideas of what would really set the Kinect apart.

What things would  you like to see the Kinect do in the future?

Zune Card