Kinect downgraded? On the contrary, says Rare

Kinect downgraded? On the contrary, says Rare

By Rob Crossley

September 29th 2010 at 2:56PM

An ongoing focus on key features has allowed the device to grow

Microsoft’s innovative controllerless peripheral, Kinect, has not been downgraded during its evolution from concept to final product, says an exec at UK studio Rare.

In fact, Nick Burton believes Kinect has closely followed a survival-of-the-fittest principal; dropping less desired features and improving its more important ones.

“Kinect’s tech has certainly not downgraded over time,” the Rare technology producer told Develop. “I would say the tech has been upgraded, in fact.”

An air of mystery has surrounded the technology behind Kinect – partly due, of course, to its bold promise of controllerless gameplay – and yet there have been past suggestions that the peripheral’s full potential has been capped.

It was claimed at the beginning of the year that Microsoft had dropped Kinect’s internal processor, and a fog surrounds the device’s full potential. Whether the peripheral can accurately read people sitting down, or more than two people at once, and at what distances, are questions that may hang until launch.

“Certain bits of it have been downgraded,” Burton said, “but they were bits that weren’t necessarily going to be productised. There’s certain things that you try out, and you find are not as important as you first thought.

“I think a lot of talk on the net about what Kinect can and can’t do isn’t very accurate. These stories usually come from little bits of information.

“Y’know it’s like anything. It’s actually a lot like when you’re making a game – best bits are focused on and the other stuff falls by the wayside.

In the end, Kinect’s software layer will eventually prove to be far more significant to its future than internal hardware components, says Burton.

“The central thing with Kinect is it’s all about the software.

“It’s more than the sum of its parts, in that sense. There’s so much input that can be translated, that there are so many things you can do with it. Obviously a lot of people have latched onto the motion-sensing features, but that really is the tip of the iceberg.

“We’ve played around with lots of different prototypes, and it turned out for us that one of the most useful tools was Kinect’s skeletal tracking. So we focused on that, as did a lot of other studios, so in turn more effort was put into making that more robust. When you do that, of course, less effort is spent on other things.”