Posts tagged Pixies

Kinecting better than ever.

    

Almost exactly a year ago (give or take 3 weeks) I wrote a post on Microsofts’s then new XBox accessory, the motion sensing Kinect. Back then I noted how the Kinect had been passionately embraced by hackers and scientists across America and the globe. Engineering grad students were finding uses for the Kinect that Microsoft could not have even begun to dream of. Microsoft’s initial reaction was to lets it’s lawyers off the leash but luckily, someone with a modicum of sense managed to beat that instinct down and lock it in cupboard. However, after that, Microsoft largely turned silent. Videos of new and creative uses for the Kinect kept coming but the big M seemed to stick to the plan that the Kinect should be nothing but a cool addition to a gaming console. Truly a horrific waste in terms of marketing and a sad testament to Microsofts ability to grasp the reins of a potentially paradigm shifting opportunity. I was genuinely sad.

Until this video was passed around my office on Monday morning.

That video is goddamn magic.

For me it is more than just the hauntingly beautiful interpretation of the Pixies “Where is my mind?” that accompanies the video* of people using the Kinect in ways that most hardcore gamers would find baffling, if not downright infuriating.

The video is accompanies Microsoft’s recent launch of The Kinect Effect website and the release of SDK Beta, a software package that will make it easier for people to write programs for their Kinect. The company has finally decided to throw its full weight behind the modding community, a move we usually only get from Google. What is more, Microsoft has decided that the Kinect has the heft and power to stand on it’s own. No longer is it merely an fancy gadget that will allow your kids to interact with Elmo or for you to impress your drunk friends with your Dance Central moves. It is a product, no, it is brand all on its own and the video is testament to this.

Only once do you hear someone in the video mention the word XBox, but the fabled entertainment console is nowhere to be seen in the video. At the end of the video, the word “Kinect” stands entirely on it’s own. It is no longer the XBox Kinect, it has grown beyond it.

Around my office, this would probably be labeled as strong evidence for ‘gamification’, a term I hope to discuss in greater detail some time later. The essential premise is that gaming is become far more integrated into our everyday lives as our everyday lives become more digital. I do agree that gamification is a big part of what is happening here, but I cannot stop myself from thinking that Microsoft has stumbled on something possibly world shifting. The Kinect could very well one day eclipse iPad in terms of use and ubiquity. It is already light years ahead of everyone’s favorite tablet where the price tag is concerned, it only costs a fifth of an iPad 2 ($150)! All that is required, are a few killer apps, and Kinects will be in every conference room, surgery, music studio, physical therapy room, McDonalds and under every TV across the world. All it took was for Microsoft to release a few bits of code.

I don’t think that I would be out of line by saying that even the great, late Steve Jobs could not help but be impressed by this.

- Philip Beickler

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* The video was made by twofifteenmccann, a division of McCann Erikson, the global ad agency that won the exclusive contract to all Microsoft advertising. The company is responsible for the hugely impressive Halo and Gears of War ad campaigns that I have mentioned in this space previously. They really have done some amazing work for Microsoft and for the XBox division in particular. I will definitely write about those campaigns in the future.