Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Friday, 22 July 2011 05:00
There have been abundant rumors since Kinect's launch that one day, a simple downloadable upgrade would allow Kinect to read finger positioning. As game companies begin to embrace motion control, and a lot of mainstream games are now coming out with Move/Kinect support, each company has a major advantage: Kinect's controllerless scheme allows for some creative liberties that free you from having to use multiple controllers, and developers are free to mess around with Kinect's input scheme as much as they want. Since the release of the Kinect PC editing software, many independent developers have made amazingly unique things.
PS3, on the other hand, has a simple yet significant advantage: buttons. A simple click here requires an awkward gesticulation on Xbox. When playing Kinect Adventures with my son, I see 20 dodgeballs go whizzing by while I find the right angle to hold my left hand out for that 5 seconds or so; I can only imagine what would happen if I were trying to pause an intense action game. On PS3? "Click." And with Child of Eden being released on PS3 I can see firing being a lot more responsive, even though you'll feel less like a plasma-shooting superhuman and more like an air-traffic controller.
If Kinect could get finger control, they can still have the "You Are the Controller" slogan, with at least eight buttons available: thumb to each finger on both hands. With enough precision, we could even hit buttons on the HUD of the giant mech we are piloting, per se. Or type smoothly on an Air Keyboard. Or even return to roots and really have Air Guitar Hero. The addition of virtual "buttons" would allow you to reload a pistol without some precise arm wave, or turn your character 180 degrees without looking like I did when I tried to play Super Mario Bros. with a Power Glove. The increase in sensitivity would most likely lead to an overall better Kinection as well, perhaps allowing head tracking too.
All three big companies are doing something very unique with motion controls. If Microsoft is truly working on this technology, they need to make it work well, but get it out the door soon or allow games to have controller/Kinect simultaneous control. The quick reaction of a button may be the lynchpin that brings the hardcore masses to the party.
Outside of gaming, Kinect needs this support as well. It is already being used in operating rooms to allow doctors to review medical notes mid surgery without having to scrub back in. Imagine the detail! A reliable finger specific Kinect could allow a master surgeon to help in a surgery across the country, implementing a set of computer controlled surgical tools! Kinect has far more potential than I think Microsoft ever imagined it could have. We may have to wait for the next hardware upgrade for some of the more fanciful dreams, but finger tracking is one upgrade that could, if done well, launch Kinect into the stratosphere.