Microsoft claims sales of 2.5 million Kinect hands-free controllers for the Xbox 360, making the device a hit in the consumer space.
Microsoft is claiming sales of 2.5 million Kinect hands-free controllers,
making the Xbox 360 accessory one of the first reported successes of the
holiday shopping season.
"With sales already exceeding two and a half million units in just 25
days, we are on pace to reach our forecast of 5 million units sold to consumers
this holiday," Don Mattrick, Microsoft's president of Interactive
Entertainment Business, wrote
in a Nov. 29 statement posted on Microsoft's corporate Website
Formerly code-named "Project Natal," Kinect utilizes a 3D camera
to track 48 points of movement on the user's body, and then translates those
movements to a digital avatar. Microsoft hopes Kinect will extend the life cycle
of the 5-year-old Xbox 360.
Kinect aims squarely at the casual-gaming market once dominated by the
Nintendo Wii, which recently fell to third place after years of outpacing the
Xbox and Sony PlayStation franchises. Nintendo remains competitive, reporting sales
of 600,000 Wii units during the Black Friday shopping week
, but some
analysts nonetheless see the console's best days as behind it.
"The success of the Wii has been bound in large part to people who
enjoyed it as a fad and have now moved on," Marc Jackson, chief executive
of video-game finance and consulting firm Seahorn Capital, told
the Los Angeles Times Nov. 30
While targeted primarily at casual gamers, Kinect also found an unexpected
audience among tech pros and tinkerers, who became interested in the device's
3D camera. Whether painting 3D images in midair or tethering the motion
controls to an iRobot, it seemed that the modified Kinect offered a variety of
After some initial noises of disapproval, Microsoft seemingly moved to
embrace the Kinect tinkering. "The first thing to talk about is that
Kinect was not actually hacked," Alex Kipman, Microsoft's director of
incubation for Xbox, insisted during a Nov. 19 interview with NPR. "Hacking
would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side of the Xbox
and was able to actually use them, which hasn't happened."
What happened, he said, "is someone wrote an open-source driver for PCs
that essentially opens the USB connection,
which we didn't protect by design, and reads the inputs from the sensor."
If Kinect continues its accelerated sales run, Microsoft could seek to
leverage 3D-gesture technology toward other devices and applications. The
company has already acquired Canesta, a maker of 3D-image sensor chips and
camera modules that can be embedded in a variety of consumer products,
including laptops and vehicle dashboards.