The Kinect software technology was originally developed by Microsoft. Its 3D-interpreting camera technology was created by PrimeSense, a hardware company based in Israel. The Kinect systems skeletal mapping technology has been demonstrated to be capable of tracking up to four people and their individual skeletal points simultaneously.
The system also allows players to control the Xbox 360 Dashboard console by means of hand gestures and voice commands. Users can automatically be identified by the Kinect through use of face and voice recognition technologies. It supports voice and video chat with Xbox 360 and Windows Live Messenger users. Microsoft also claims the Kinect will support ESPN and Zune applications. So far only a handful of game demos have been featured. Titles like Burnout Paradise, Milo & Kate, Paint Party, and Ricochet have already been demoed to live audiences.
A wide variety of Kinect-optional and Kinect-only games are scheduled for release from big-name game publishers like Blizzard, Capcom, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, SEGA, and Ubisoft. To date, 16 Kinect-specific titles are scheduled for its launch, along with several more that claim to have Kinect support.
Microsoft has allocated a five hundred million dollar (USD) advertisement budget for the Kinect, a budget which eclipses that of the original Xbox console itself. They plan to advertise Kinect with a wide variety of partners including YouTube, Disney, Pepsi and Burger King. Microsoft even plans to give away free consoles and Kinect sensors to audience members on The Oprah Winfrey Show!
The Kinect for Xbox 360 is designed at expanding the Xbox 360s user base beyond its typical hard-core gamer base, most likely being a response to Nintendos Wii Remote with Wii MotionPlus, a similar controller released for the Nintendo Wii gaming platform. The Kinect also faces similar competition from Sony with their release of the PlayStation Move for the PlayStation 3 gaming console.
The Kinect is scheduled for worldwide launching beginning with North America in early-November 2010, followed by Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and Singapore in mid-November. Although planned to be compatible with all current Xbox 360 revisions, the device will first be available for purchase as a bundled item with both 4 GB and 250 GB Xbox 360 editions together with its partner game, Kinect Adventures.