Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing camera for Xbox 360 is heading into its second holiday, and even with all the device's innovation, 365 days can seem like an eon in gadget-years.
But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday, assured a developer audience that the Kinect still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, with substance to replace the initial hype.
"Like any other thing that is new, we came out with a set of applications to show off the platform, to bring others in," Ballmer said. "Our second generation is now happening."
The Kinect launched in November 2010, boasting an innovative depth-sensing 3D camera system and a multi-directional microphone as its primary features. The device has sold over 10 million units and excited the mass market with games like Harmonix's Dance Central
and the bundled title Kinect Adventures
Ballmer said this holiday will have a big Kinect push on the content side. "We announced a partnership
today with Sesame Street and National Geographic to bring kids' learning and entertainment to the Kinect. You'll see a raft of new games from us and third-party publishers this holiday."
He added, "We've announced and demonstrated work that we're doing with people who provide video content
-- live TV as well as other [video on demand], etc. content -- to really let you access and find [content] and control it, completely via the Kinect, gesture and voice being a part of that. Bing-powered by the way, that will be out this holiday season. So you're going to see a range of important innovations coming to Kinect on Xbox this holiday."
Ballmer also said the Kinect toolkit for Windows, officially released by Microsoft earlier this year, has helped foster independent innovation that was already happening on Kinect even before the official toolkit's release.
"That kind of opens up a whole new sphere of innovation with Kinect and the PC. This holiday I think you'll see an explosion of things around the Xbox and Kinect," said Ballmer.