Really quick, I want a show of hands: how many of you actually bought a Kinect 1 for PC? Anyone? At all? I mean, modders and hackers defied expectations (and warranties) to come up with some cool ideas for the little-motion-controller-that-couldn’t-always, but nothing about it ever screamed, “BUY MEEEEE.” So now the better, beefier Kinect 2 is about to (literally) get under PC owners’ skin, and I’m wondering where people are at on these things. The new one will run you a whopping $199.00 – half the price of an Xbox One – so probably take that into account.
Microsoft’s put up a listing for the new PC Kinect, which is releasing on July 15th, aka next week. Between that $200 price tag and this prohibitive product description, I don’t really think Microsoft wants folks like us to buy it. Not yet, anyway:
“The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor gives developers more of the precision, responsiveness, and intuitive capabilities they need to develop interactive voice- and gesture-based applications for the Windows desktop and Windows Store. The v2 sensor is intended for use with the Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) 2.0. Learn more at the Kinect for Windows Dev Center.”
So this is about developers and apps, more than anything else. Not games. Based on a blog Microsoft posted last year, it doesn’t really seem like they’re planning much in the way of games here at all. “The [improved functionality] will raise the bar and accelerate the development of NUI applications across multiple industries, from retail and manufacturing to healthcare, education, communications, and more,” they wrote.
Some of those things could be kinda neat, but RPS hasn’t been Retailing, Manufacturing, Healthcaring, Educating, Communicating, and More-ing since 1873. We like games. Last time around inventive gamers figured out how to do everything from turn photos into Minecraft creations to become goddamn superheroes. This time? Who knows. There’ll be an SDK straight out of the box, so that’s exciting.
Granted, I still can’t help but come back around to the “Will this really matter to anyone like you or me?” question. I’m sure I’ll watch videos of people’s crazy Kinect fever dreams come to life, but the tech still seems too janky and unreliable (at least, unless it’s a night-and-day improvement over its Xbox One cousin) to own. But then, it’s tough to say what the future holds. Maybe a Kinect 2 will become an indispensable part of my sloppily cobbled together holodeck setup, along with an Oculus Rift and an Omni treadmill and an actual man who just runs around the room and punches me in the stomach occasionally.