Based on its E3 showing, it's safe to say Microsoft's Kinect will, at least at launch, target the family audience that's been so captivated with Wii fitness and party games like Wii Sports
or Mario Kart
. But a new look at the device's specifications makes it less clear whether it'll be able to serve those players without compromises.
According to a listing on online retailer Play.com
, although Kinect can track up to six players at a time, it can only track two "active" ones -- in other words, only up to two moving human bodies. This means that in a group setting where several players are taking turns, only two may actually be using the controller at a time, whereas Wii party games can support up to four players.
The tech specs also confirm that Kinect tracks body movements along a 20-joint skeletal map, and a total of 48 "points of movement."
Questions have also been raised from developer sources and widely in the media about whether and how well players can interact with the device while sitting down, beyond the speech recognition functionalities.
According to the listing, the technical details are as follows:
Colour and depth-sensing lenses
Voice microphone array
Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
Fully compatible with existing Xbox 360 consoles
Field of View
Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
Depth sensor range: 1.2m - 3.5m
320x240 16-bit depth @ 30 frames/sec
640x480 32-bit [email protected]
16-bit audio @ 16 kHz
Skeletal Tracking System
Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
Tracks 20 joints per active player
Ability to map active players to LIVE Avatars
LIVE party chat and in-game voice chat (requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership)
Echo cancellation system enhances voice input
Speech recognition in multiple [languages]
Gamasutra has contacted Microsoft with a request to confirm or clarify regarding possible limitations on Kinect, and we'll update with any we receive.