Monday, August 16, 2010
Too Good To Be True
Just last week I wrote about Microsoft's new gaming system that would recognize sign language. Having two deaf children, I was extremely excited about that, and quite impressed that a company like Microsoft was keeping the needs of its customers with disabilities in mind. It sounded almost too good to be true - and apparently it was.
The mention of American Sign Language (ASL) support in Microsoft’s Kinect patent raised hopes that the motion-gaming add on might be useful for more than just interacting with virtual children or swordfighting without swords; unfortunately, Microsoft has confirmed Kinect won’t actually ship with ASL functionality. The reason? Microsoft downgraded Kinect’s video hardware capabilities.
While Kinect will ship with webcams capable of 320 x 240, Microsoft apparently planned the cameras to support over twice that resolution. That would have allowed the system to recognize not just limbs but individual fingers, hence the ASL support.
Unfortunately, in trying to cut costs, hit a $150 street price and still maintain a decent profit margin, Microsoft supposedly opted to use cheaper, less capable cameras, which can only recognize limbs. They also offloaded some of Kinect’s processing from the camera-bar itself to the Xbox 360 console itself. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed this is all true, but if so it suggests the first-gen hardware will never be able to support ASL.
You haev disappointed me, Microsoft, really disappointed me....