Since Microsoft announced the Xbox Kinect, traditional game play has truly changed. Without the need for physical controllers, the Kinect opens the doors to a whole new market of casual gamers. With 8 million units sold since launch, the Xbox has finally started to invade Nintendo Wii sales.
As the Xbox 360 becomes the “go to place” for movies and music, Microsoft found that many customers often dreaded having to use the gaming controller to browse and navigate their TV. While it probably wasn’t an issue for gamers, others generally found the overwhelming number of buttons confusing. To solve that problem entirely, Microsoft now simplifies the entire experience with Kinect.
During the company’s CES 2011 keynote, Microsoft announced that users
can now will soon be able to use the Kinect’s motion capabilities to control Zune, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and ESPN without a controller. With simple hand gestures and voice commands users can browse through libraries of content and access full media playback controls. For example a user can say “Xbox, play song” or wave their hand in swiping motions to scan through a list of movies. This feature is not important for just the less technically savvy, but also for the disabled or physically impaired. In fact, the motion and voice controls even make it easy to control the Xbox when your hands are occupied. The Kinect would be one of the first accessibility tools for the TV. Microsoft says these new features will be available for existing and new customers as an update this spring.
It is important to note that Netflix, Hulu Plus, and ESPN are only available to Xbox LIVE subscribers. Which means an additional $50 per year to access premium content. For someone who does not game online or use the many other features of Xbox LIVE, the monthly cost can get quite pricey. In comparison, the PlayStation 3 and Wii charge no extra fees for online access. Until Microsoft waives Xbox LIVE fees accessing entertainment content, it’s hard to tell whether casual users will be willing to shell out the extra cash on top of Netflix and Hulu Plus subscription costs.
Links: Microsoft Xbox Kinect