Microsoft has unveiled its next major initiative for its motion-sensing Kinect peripheral: licensed, interactive television for children.
In a press conference in New York on Tuesday, the company unveiled strategic partnerships with Pixar, National Geographic, Sesame Street and Double Fine for what it is calling "playful learning" experiences.
Pixar's Jay Ward announced on stage that a Kinect-exclusive project, currently codenamed Rush
, will see children interacting on television in the worlds of its popular franchises.
Microsoft describes the game as "a race against time to solve exciting challenges" with characters from five of Pixar's films, specifically Toy Story, Up, Cars, Ratatouille and The Incredibles. Children can "scan" themselves in and interact in their worlds.
A trailer shown at the press event depicted what appears to be a series of mini games, according to a report
. No live demonstration was given.
Following up on last week's Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
, Double Fine today announced Double Fine Happy Action Theater
, a collection of Kinect-based interactive experiences.
In a demonstration attended by Gamasutra, the title displayed a series of rapid-fire, interactive "toys" with no real goals or reward structures, causing Double Fine president and project lead Tim Schafer to describe it as also being fun "for dorm rooms."
"No rules, no menus, no instructions -- just pure fun," Microsoft said in a statement.
Sesame Workshop's partnership for Sesame Street content will continue with Kinect Sesame Street TV
, which will see episodes from the upcoming television season of Sesame Street -- as well as new Kinect-exclusive content from the show's producers -- coming to the system.
Since its debut, characters in Sesame Street have turned to their viewers and asked educational questions (an example provided recently: "How many peanuts is Snuffleupagus eating?"). The vision for the interactive version of the show would expect a response from the viewer, and gently guide them to the correct answer should they get it wrong.
Microsoft's partnership with National Geographic is much the same as it is with Sesame Workshop: the companies are working together to provide interactive television content.
As one might expect, the National Geographic content will focus on exploring and interacting with nature.
Developed in conjunction with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum Team, Project Columbia will be a series of interactive, educational books that "bring stories to life."
Microsoft says that the multisensory interaction through Kinect will help children "emphasize understanding and the meaning of what is written, not just decode it."
A video demonstration of Project Columbia is available here