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Microsoft Ends Kinect Production

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A Co. Design feature confirms what many were suspecting-- Microsoft has stopped production of the Kinect, the arguably revolutionary Xbox camera accessory and former device sales dark horse.

KinectThe news via interview with Kinect creator Alex Kipman and Xbox Devices Marketing GM Matthew Lapsen. The two tell Microsoft has be de-emphasising the Kinect for a while, even if the technology continues to exist in other products. The core sensor is now inside the Hololens augmented reality headset, while Kinect team members are working on the Cortana voice assistant, the Windows Hello biometric system and a future UI Microsoft calls Gaze, Gesture and Voice (GGV).

Kinect launched in 2010 as an accessory for the Xbox 360. Formerly known as "Project Natal," it essentially maps a space in invisible infrared dots in order to track the human movements. It was a surprising success, selling 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market, earning it a Guinness World Record for "fastest selling consumer electronics device."

However, as it often happens, Kinect's popularity waned with the years. Fast forward to 2014, and Microsoft lost points by bundling an upgraded Kinect with the then newly launched Xbox One-- a move deemed an unnecessary expense at best, and a potential intrusion of privacy at worst. In an infamous E3 presentation, Microsoft described a future where a combination of Xbox 360 and always looking Kinect controlled the entire living room through voice and gesture... a move Sony took advantage of by simply assuring gamers the PS4 is a machine for, well, games.

As a result Microsoft stopped selling the bundle just a few months later, and a year later the Xbox One S model was launched without a Kinect port. The same goes for the upgraded Xbox One model, the Xbox One X.

But was the Kinect truly, as Co. Design insists, "the single most influential, or at least prescient, piece of hardware outside of the iPhone"? Depends on who you asked. For instance, this writer believes the Kinect was little more than a novelty, if one that brought about some genuinely amusing dancing games, which forced players to act the fool in front the of the TV. However it was also put to interesting use by researchers and hackers in applications ranging from UI prototypes to experimental art. One also has to keep in mind it was the first to introduce a voice- and vision-based technologies to the consumer sphere.

So farewell, Kinect. You might not be missed by gamers, but your legacy lives on elsewhere.

Go Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing the Kinect