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Kinect's next challenge is natural speech, says Rare engineer
Kinect's next challenge is natural speech, says Rare engineer Exclusive
June 25, 2012 | By Staff

June 25, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Programming, Design, Exclusive

What's the next big challenge for Kinect development? Natural speech recognition, says David Quinn, who worked on Kinect Sports and its sequel at Microsoft studio Rare.

He's one of the foremost experts in developing engineering solutions for the peripheral, having worked with it since its pre-release Project Natal days, and into the latest games for the device. He's also collaborated closely with other first party developers and Microsoft's labs on solutions for the device.

"We pushed speech pretty hard in Sports 2," says Quinn. "But it was also a very say-what-you-see approach; in golf, you change clubs [by saying] 'four iron', kind of thing."

"What I'd like to see and what we're investigating now is a more natural conversation way of talking to the Kinect, so you can say, 'Hey, caddy, give me a five iron,' or 'Hey, caddy, what should I use now?'"

He says that implementing natural speech is the challenge he's "most interested in" now that the team has devised a number of solutions for other forms of Kinect gameplay using the skeleton tracking system and 3D depth sensor -- solutions which he details in the full interview.

He has been impressed, he said, with how BioWare implemented speech in Mass Effect 3. "I think is an excellent use of speech," he says. "You can use speech in Kinect in a more core title, and it really demonstrated that. I think from here on in you'll see a lot of speech in core games."

The full interview, in which he shares lessons learned from the development of the Kinect Sports series, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Luis Guimaraes
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That's pretty much the only thing holding back gaming for becoming as mainstream as TV, cinema and music with the female audience.