NEWS - Friday, October 1, 2010

Microsoft: No Need for Internal Kinect Processor

Since Kinect was first announced at E3 in 2009 (when it was, of course, codenamed Project Natal), it’s gone through a few changes -- and one of the main changes was the removal of an internal processor in the device, with the final Kinect model instead relying on the Xbox 360’s processing power. Speaking to Xbox World 360 (via CVG), though, Kinect mastermind Kudo Tsunoda insisted the change was not just about making the device cheaper, but was made because they determined Kinect simply didn’t need it.
"We didn’t know how much processing Kinect was going to take at the start of development," Tsunoda explained. "Forza is a graphical showpiece, and we had Forza with Kinect at E3... the graphic fidelity has actually improved in some areas from what they shipped with Forza 3. It’s still running at 60 frames-per-second and it’s supporting Kinect, so there’s just no need to have that extra processor." Tsunoda also said that in the end, Kinect only uses "less than one percent" of the 360’s processing power.

Another change that Tsunoda confirmed is with Kinect’s camera, which -- as previously reported -- does indeed track fewer points on the body than the original higher resolution camera did when Project Natal was first announced. But again, Tsunoda said the reduction was simply a process of settling on what Kinect needed in order to work, and wasn’t about removing functionality.

"As you start building the stuff, you’re like: ’Wow, to track everything in the human body we can do less points,’" he explained. "That’s just normal game development. Anything you do with games, you want the processing power to be used as efficiently as possible to get the experience that you want."

Still, it does turn out that at least one feature Microsoft was originally considering ended up having to be dropped due to the lower camera resolution: the ability for Kinect to read sign language, which would have required a camera that could recognize individual fingers.


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