Microsoft Quits Manufacturing Kinect Motion Controller

The company ceases production on the motion controller that helped enthusiasts and developers get their hands on advanced sensing technology at low cost.

Microsoft Discontinuing Kinect Sensor

Kinect, the innovative device from Microsoft that was a consumer electronics success for the company and sparked a hardware hacking movement, has reached the end of the line. The Redmond, Wash. technology giant has pulled the plug on the motion-sensing peripheral first introduced for the Xbox 360 and later updated for the company's current-generation game console, the Xbox One.

The company stopped manufacturing the hardware, Microsoft executives Alex Kipman, the device's creator, and Matthew Lapsen, general manager of Xbox Devices Marketing, confirmed in a Fast Co. Design report. Although Kinect will no longer be available after retailers sell out, the company plans to continue supporting the device for Xbox users. The developer situation, however, remains murky.

Kinect was a sales success for Microsoft after its November 2010 release. Four months after hitting store shelves, Microsoft sold 10 million units, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. Over its lifetime, the peripheral would go on to sell about 35 million units.

Although consumers seeking turn their own bodies into game controllers snapped up plenty of units—Kinect can track objects and their movements in 3D space—some of the Kinect's early sales can also be attributed to hardware hackers and developers who had other ideas for the hardware.

Soon after hitting the market, an open-source driver began making the rounds, enabling users to connect the device to a PC to access its functions. What followed was a flood of projects, including self-guided robots and 3D scanners, that cost a fraction of similar systems.

Microsoft didn't approve of these projects at first and issued legal warnings. But soon, the company came to embrace the phenomenon, eventually releasing developer tools to help enthusiasts build Kinect-enabled systems and applications. The company also released a version of the original Kinect for Windows in 2012, which was discontinued in 2015.

An upgraded version was released with the Xbox One in November 2013, causing some controversy.

Xbox One units were sold in a bundle including Kinect for $499 at the time on the basis that the motion controller was an integral part of the experience. The rival PlayStation 4 game system from Sony sold for $399 with a standard controller and went on to become this console generation's sales leader.

As of June 2017, Sony sold over 60 million PlayStation 4 systems since its November 2013 debut on the market, according to the Japanese electronics giant. Microsoft no longer reports Xbox One sales figures, but in August the industry watchers at VGChartz pegged the Xbox One's worldwide lifetime sales at nearly 30.9 million units.

In May 2014, Microsoft reversed course and began selling the Xbox One without Kinect, matching the PlayStation 4's $399 retail price.

Although Kinect may not be long for this world, more advanced forms of the product's core sensor technology can be found in current and potentially future versions of HoloLens, Microsoft's augmented-reality headset, according to the report.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...