Kinect Dumbed Down - Disregards the Deaf

Whispers abound it's because of a technology "dumb down."

Posted by Staff
Kinect Dumbed Down - Disregards the Deaf
Remember when an early patent for Microsoft's Kinect peripheral revealed that it could detect sign language? Turns out now that it actually can't. According to sources at Kotaku, a 'downgrade' of the device's hardware has removed all possibility of that happening.

Originally, Kinect had a much higher resolution (the model that will be on sale in November has a resolution of 320x240) which could detect precise finger movement on top of limb motion. With the ability to read fingers, the peripheral was able to accept sign language as input.

However Microsoft was said to have removed this capability and "dumb down" the Kinect hardware in order to make the device more cost-effective. According to the story, Microsoft had always intended to sell the product at $150 and would have lost money on each unit sold either way - removing tech and putting some of the burden on the connected Xbox 360 console simply means the company will be losing less money.

For what it's worth, Microsoft responded to the aforementioned patent with the following statement. "We are excited about the potential of Kinect and its potential to impact gaming and entertainment. Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language."

With the popularity of both Kinect and PlayStation Move uncertain, it was probably a good call, if true. But will that knowledge put off potential early adopters and core gamers? Let us know your thoughts in the forum below.


AnDy 11 Aug 2010 12:32
Meh, I will buy one so I can flick through my DVD collection
DoctorDee 11 Aug 2010 14:38
Surely the whole point of Kinect is that it CAN (even now) accept sign language. OK, so not BSL, but it can accept input in the form of gestures.

Given that it is an input device, not a communication device, and it cannot accept speech either. Plus the fact that deaf people can (usually) see... I can't see what the problem is here. Sign language is a way of communicating TO a deaf person because they cannot hear... why would we want to sign to a console that (with Kinect) can hear, and see, and accept gestural and joypad input?

Is this simply not a "cool" but useless feature that has been dropped because it would have increased the price, and have been useless and actually not all that cool?
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