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It has been more than a decade since Microsoft unveiled the Kinect, a motion-sensing gaming peripheral for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Microsoft tried and tried to make Kinect happen, even going so far as to bundle it with the Xbox One, but it ultimately failed to capture gamers’ attention. It discontinued the Kinect in 2017, but the technology still exists, and now European TV provider Sky is going to give it to consumers once again.
The next generation of Kinect won’t have Kinect branding — it’s just an accessory for Sky’s new Wi-Fi-only TVs called “Sky Glass.” The hardware looks a great deal like the Kinect boxes you might remember from the previous console generation. It has a large lens on one side, but the rest of the sensors are obscured. So, it looks more like the Xbox One version than the original Kinect.
The Microsoft Kinect topped out at a measly 480p resolution, but the version of Kinect powering the Sky Glass experience has been upgraded to 4K. Many of the intended use cases will sound familiar to anyone who used a Kinect. You can use gestures and motion controls with your TV, and the camera opens up a plethora of social features for both chat and gaming. Voice control will also be available on Sky’s Kinect clone.
Additionally, Sky and Microsoft are working to develop a video chat feature that lets you watch content with another Sky Glass user in a little picture-in-picture window. Video chat through services like Zoom will also be an option, and the device will have the same excellent subject tracking and zoom features from the Xbox’s Kinect. Obviously, Kinect was primarily about games, and Sky Glass will have some of those features, too. Games like Fruit Ninja will use the camera’s depth-sensing capabilities to track body movement, and Sky’s network can link you with opponents in other households. There isn’t a ton of info about what games will be compatible with the reborn technology, but it’s safe to assume they’ll be of the casual variety.
Microsoft’s misadventure with Kinect was supposed to be the dawn of a new era for the connected home — games, movies, video chat, voice control, all in one device! It would have been great if it had caught on, but the Kinect wasn’t the right device, or perhaps the tech just wasn’t ready. The new Sky Glass camera is more capable, however, so maybe that’ll make a difference this time around. If people love it, maybe Kinect technology will make a comeback. If not, well, it’ll probably rise from the dead again. Just give it a few years.