63 Reviews

Xbox Kinect

Marks and sensors

Page 2 of 4

Turns out they're probably going to be required in the room just to set the kit up properly. If you want Kinect to respond to both your choice of sitting and standing - and you will, if you use your console for anything other than energetic leaping - you have to calibrate it just so, and it's not an elementary affair.

The more you 'teach' Kinect, the more accurate it becomes. (Indeed, as hinted at by Peter Molyneux in one of his Milo presentations this year, the language and dialect you use with Kinect is stored in the Cloud - should you agree to it - so that Kinect can grow its audio ability worldwide. Spooky.)

In your first few hours with the device, repeated calibration of gesture and voice recognition makes a big difference to responsiveness in the long run - especially if the low ceiling of your lounge means your face is likely to be tainted by lighbulb illumination when you're stood upright.


The Kinect Tuner allows you to adjust the lens up and down so that it 'sees' the maximum amount of your body as possible. It's here you can find the best midway point between sitting and standing - meaning you never need fiddle about with the camera again.

Apparently, Kinect can track 5,000 points on your body, but you only need concentrate on five: head, arms and ankles. Get all these in the picture, and you're away.

Following this, another tracking programme ensures the device can differentiate you from other objects. It's recommended that you carry out this sort of fine tuning in different lighting conditions and at different times of the day - and this is significant advice. Kinect struggled to recognise my exact movements in natural light until I captured myself in the morning via this setup programme. I never encountered the problem again.

There's also an audio setup, which is thankfully straightforward, and the amazingly cheerful Calibration option - where you get to use a smiley card and a virtual pair of glasses to give your Kinect an insight into the size and shape of your living room.

All of this is vital if you want to get the best out of Kinect's RGB camera, depth sensor and microphone. Put in the effort, and the device rewards you handsomely, with the techie's favourite currency - constancy.

Gesture control is at the epicentre of everything Kinect is about - and, once you've completed your setup, can easily be managed from the sofa. A quick wave of the hand will take you to the Kinect Hub, a thinned-down version of the main 360 Dashboard. Once these virtual doors have swung open, you can choose from 17 applications on three screens, each represented by a sizeable square image.

To pick one of these, you hover your hand icon over it for a couple of seconds, until a drawn circle is complete. The time you have to wait has been smartly judged; not too long as to become a pain, not too short as to leave you bumping into programmes you never meant to launch.


To shift from menu to menu, you lock your hand into one of two directional arrows on either side of the screen, and then flick your wrist left or right. It really is that simple - and it really does work like a charm.

The ability to whiz around each page is astonishing - and puts paid to the idea that Kinect can't keep up with sudden arm movements. So long as your camera has been thoroughly calibrated, it will be able to keep pace with your mobility with remarkable consistency.

In the bottom right hand corner of the Kinect Hub at all times is a black and white scan of Kinect's vision, in which your major extremities glow purple. This is shown on a larger scale in the setup screen, which also highlights key points on your skeleton.

Not only are these images packed with sci-fi cool (perfect for stimulating the inner nerd) - but they both indicate an impressive future for Kinect. Try as I might, gesticulating like a spasming loon in every direction caused no issues. Even at my most most physically feverish, these scans showed Kinect reading my fastest, most awkward convulsions in real time. Dare I say it - they indicate that Kinect is capable of something very close to 1:1 tracking. (A shame, then, that this nigh on lag-less depiction couldn't quite make it into all of the launch software.)

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