The slow and painful death of Xbox Kinect

The Xbox Kinect caused a stir when it debuted in 2010, but camera versions failed to make any kind of impact.


  • The Kinect started out with advanced features and was successful in its launch, but ultimately became known for its magic.
  • Kinect saw more use cases in the educational and professional sectors than it did in gaming, despite efforts to integrate it into the Xbox One.
  • Microsoft discontinued Kinect due to backlash from gamers and a lack of demand, eventually discontinuing it in 2018 after releasing the Azure Kinect Developer Kit.

Back when it was announced in 2009, the Microsoft Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360 was seen as a worthy opponent to Sony’s Move controller and Wii Remote. Unlike its competitors, Kinect wasn’t a game controller that could detect your hand’s movements; it was a fully loaded camera with infrared sensors that could record the movements of your entire body. This supports all kinds of great ways to interact with games.

Fast forward 14 years, and Kinect is still remembered as a colossal failure even though it got off to a great start. But what went wrong?

Its successful launch did not hide its surprising nature

The first version of Kinect was launched in 2010 and won the Guinness World Record for the fastest selling game due to its great features. As previously mentioned, the Kinect was capable of full body tracking and facial and voice recognition, which were new at the time of its release.

Like any first-generation product, Kinect had its problems. For one, you need to be at least 6 feet away from the Kinect for its sensor to work properly. Secondly, there weren’t many AAA games released for the Kinect because many gamers preferred the accuracy of the Xbox 360 controller to the intuitive camera controls. Sure, some games like Forza Horizon and Mass Effect 3 they added Kinect support, but the limited space for voice control wasn’t worth $150. As a result, the Kinect feature began to be dominated by a number of dance games and games, making users realize the magic of the accessory.

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A PC release that didn’t really attract gamers

With its initial success with regular consumers, fans of the game wanted to try using the power of the Kinect camera for educational purposes. Unfortunately, the original Kinect could not be used with Windows systems without tweaks due to its USB interface, which required an Xbox 360 to activate the camera, something that was not possible on a PC unless you changed the hardware of your Kinect. .

Although Microsoft was initially against users modding Kinect to work on any platform besides the Xbox 360, the company changed its mind around November 2010. wind due to cheap USB adapters that began to flood the market. Soon, developers around the world began using the SDK, and for a short period of time, Kinect saw use cases in almost every field… except gaming. With few exceptions Kinect mods for popular games like SkyrimThere weren’t many ways you could use it as a gaming accessory on PC.

A year passed, and it was time for Microsoft to announce its biggest product, the Xbox One. The company planned to make Kinect even more compact in its eighth generation, and this is where things went terribly wrong with the device…

Microsoft tried to force its implementation…

Unfortunately, the Xbox One Kinect had to fail even before it launched. When Microsoft announced the new console, it continued its efforts to announce Kinect. First, Microsoft bundled a new version of Kinect with every Xbox One console, causing the console’s launch price to hit $500. Meanwhile, Sony’s PlayStation 4 was $100 cheaper and more powerful than its Microsoft counterpart, making it better for users.

Heck, at the unveiling event on May 21, 2013, Microsoft said that the camera must be connected at all times for the Xbox One to work. According to Microsoft, Kinect’s always-on features allow users to adapt to its voice (instead of confusing) voice and gestures, allow users to open apps and games, or participate in Skype calls through the computer. During this time, users realized that Kinect’s IR sensor constantly monitors their activities. On top of that, the microphone enabled voice commands to turn on your Xbox One, meaning it listens to inputs even when the Xbox One is turned on. is turned off. As a result, rumors of Kinect spying on users began to spread, causing chaos among gamers.

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But the problems of Xbox One users do not end there because Microsoft implemented a permanent DRM policy for Xbox One and ordered users to keep their connections online. Also, players have to go online every 24 hours to check for DRM, and the lack of a check every day means that their game is closed. Combine this with Microsoft’s revelation that it had no intention of making the Xbox One backward compatible with previous games, and the console received an attack from the Xbox community, forcing the company to return to many of its options. However, Microsoft continued to bundle the Kinect with the Xbox One for several months after the console’s launch. It took the company seven months to change its tune.

… Then he started to give it up

By March 2014, Microsoft had abandoned Kinect and started selling the Xbox One console for $400. The unreleased Kinect went on sale as a standalone console for $150. By 2017, the company had blacked out the Kinect area during the mid-term refresh. The new Xbox Series S and Series X consoles ship without a dedicated Kinect port, although you can use a free adapter to play a few Xbox One games that are compatible with the audio camera. Microsoft also released Kinect V2 for Windows but discontinued it in April 2015 due to a lack of PC support.

In 2017, Microsoft announced its plans to discontinue Kinect and by 2018, it stopped making new adapters. But this was not the end of Kinect, as the poor camera had to suffer yet another painful death.

Lackluster’s welcome to the Azure Kinect Developer Kit

As of 2019, Microsoft abandoned all plans to make Kinect more accessible to gamers and decided to go with businesses instead. The company’s new work included the release of a new version of Kinect and the Azure Developer Kit. Priced at $400, “Project Kinect for Azure” enabled the Azure cloud service to improve Kinect’s depth perception capabilities.

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Sadly, the last Kinect refresh met its fate, with Microsoft putting the final nail in the Kinect coffin by abandoning the Azure Kinect Developer Kit in August 2023. In the words of Microsoft CEO Swati Mehta,

“We have made the decision to end production of the Azure Kinect Developer Kit, but this is not far from the end of the technology as it will continue to be available through the ecosystems we partner with.”

Adding insult to injury, Microsoft has outsourced the pixel and sensor technology to third-party partners, undermining the need for Kinect as developers and agencies can use more immersive cameras.

What can you do with Kinect in 2023?

In 2010, Kinect was a big, new piece of technology. But 13 years down the line, there’s no need to buy one. I bought the Xbox 360 version of the Kinect camera when Microsoft discontinued the Kinect V2 in 2017, and have only used it a few times.

If you have a Kinect camera lying around, you can use it to create 3D animations of real-world objects, although you shouldn’t expect high-quality graphics from a decade-old camera. You can also use the Kinect as a Windows Hello web camera, but you may want to use the V2 version for better authentication. You can also use it to add full-body tracking capabilities to a VR headset, but even that involves a lot of trial and error on your part.

That being said, Kinect had a lot of positives to make up for its negatives, and it could have been even more successful had it received the right support from Microsoft. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said Kinect has made a huge difference in gaming, including making games more accessible to people with disabilities. The camera was also used extensively in hobby and robotics projects in its early days. Unfortunately, Kinect was unable to hit its full potential and became yet another failure in the tech industry.

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