Natural speech 'next big challenge' for Kinect

Natural speech 'next big challenge' for Kinect
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

June 26th 2012 at 6:56AM

Mass Effect 3 voice commands point to new frontier, says Rare engineer David Quinn

The next big challenge for Kinect developers is natural speech, says Rare engineer David Quinn.

Quinn has been working on Kinect "almost since the beginning," and since that time has been instrumental in the Kinect Sports titles.

"We pushed speech pretty hard in Sports 2," he told Gamasutra.

"There was speech in the first round of launch titles- Kinectimals obviously had speech. But from day one the entire UI was gonna be speech-driven. Every game event had to have speech incorporated into it."

But this was a limited approach, and Quinn wants to see speech incorporated in more natural, fluid ways.

"But it was also a very say-what-you-see approach; in golf, you change clubs- 'four iron,' - kind of thing," he explained.

"What I'd like to see and what we're investigating now is a more natural conversation way of talking to the Kinect, so you can say, 'Hey, caddy, give me a five iron,' or 'Hey, caddy, what should I use now?'"

Speech is particularly important because of the popularity of core titles like Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim taking advantage of Kinect voice commands.

"What Mass Effect had recently done with Kinect's speech system is an excellent use of speech," said Quinn, who expects more core titles to use Kinect in the near future.

"What the Mass Effect guys have done is bring it into a core title, showing it could be used with a controller. It doesn't have to be the 'get up and dance' kind of experience"

"You can use speech in Kinect in a more core title, and it really demonstrated that. I think from here on in you'll see a lot of speech in core games."