Xbox 360 Kinect update

I didn’t write anything yesterday because, well to be honest, there wasn’t really anything to write about. I was in communication with Microsoft yesterday through a lovely lady who was very helpful. It has increased my understanding of how Kinect works and I managed to trick Kinect Sports this morning with my new knowledge. I am now going to share the information with you so other amputees who wish to use it will be able to and there are some useful links too.

How Kinect Works

Kinect identifies players by searching for a specified shape, in this case 2 arms, 2 legs, and a head, and recognizes that shape as a skeleton.  Such mapping is necessary to discern the difference between the user and any other shapes within the user’s environment (a couch, a chair, a coffee table, etc.).  Without all of those skeletal indicators, Kinect will either assume that what it is looking at is not a skeleton or assume that the missing limb is occluded by something.  Kinect mapping is based on visual cues, so a prosthetic leg that “looks like” a leg should be recognized similar to a natural leg.  If you are wearing a pair of trousers over your prosthetic leg, as you mentioned, the sensor should be able to recognize your body shape and will allow you to play any game for which you possess the physical mobility.  If you are using a more mechanical-type prosthesis without trousers, any shiny or reflective surfaces may cause minor problems with skeletal mapping.  If this is the case, you can try to cover any reflective surfaces in an effort to increase the chances of successful mapping and gameplay.

I tried on my prosthetic leg this morning while wearing a pair of trousers over the top and Kinect did recognise me fully. The only issue with Kinect sports is that although you could physically play some sports sitting down, you have to be standing up for the games to work. If the developers could update the software to enable some sports to be played sitting then it could be a very good rehabilitation tool. One lady did say to me that they use the Wii as part of their amputee rehabilitation so the proof is there that it can work. So on to some advice for using Kinect while in a wheelchair:-

•           Smaller wheelchairs (think basic hospital style chairs or racing chairs) seem to work best with Kinect.

•           Shiny surfaces can cause minor problems as well, so you might try covering any reflective surfaces on the chair. This may also affect the Kinect sensor’s ability to “recognize” your prosthetic leg. You may want to try covering any reflective surfaces on your prosthetic leg as well.

•           Ideally the sensor should be positioned at seated chest level or slightly higher for best recognition when seated; do not have the sensor lower then seated chest level.

•           Finally, if there are any armrests on the chair that are large and protruding (think of the control arm on some of the larger, motorized chair) these may inhibit recognition as the sensor mistakes them for another set of arms; see if can reposition those arms out of the sensor’s view.

As of the 2011 holiday season, there are a several titles that work fully seated

•           Kinectimals – http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Kinectimals-Demo/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8024d5389c7

•           Kinect Joy Ride – http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Kinect-Joy-Ride/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8024d5389b4

•           The Gun Stringer – http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/The-Gunstringer/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8024d5309df?nosplash=1&DownloadType=GameDemo#LiveZone

•           Forza Motorsport 4 – http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Forza-Motorsport-4-Demo/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d8024d5389f0

You can learn more about Accessibility and Kinect here http://support.xbox.com/en-us/pages/kinect/more-topics/accessibility-kinect.aspx Microsoft  are in the process of updating this webpage to include titles and features that are available for game players with unique gameplay needs.  They plan to update this webpage with new titles as they become available.

Microsoft has been working hard to improve the seated gaming experience with Kinect.  Their latest software update will provide functionality to developers that will make it far easier to build seated game titles. The update also includes several apps that are compatible with a seated user experience. In addition, we are trying to educate publishers on the importance of developing accessible titles at various development events in an effort to provide an entertaining gaming experience to a broad audience.

You can keep up with all the latest developments for the Xbox 360 and Kinect at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/xbox/default.aspx

These videos depict arm-amputees and their experience with Kinect.

Xbox Kinect –Allows Double-Arm Amputee to Play Video Games!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_rRnApk3sc

One-Armed Gaming – Xbox 360 Kinect Adventures and Sonic Free Riders

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhid_kS59BE

One last link is http://www.ablegamers.com  This site is for disabled gamers and they rate games for people who are deaf, one handed, colour blind etc. etc. which can be very useful to check out before purchase a game.

I hope you will find this post useful and I would like to thank Jessica from Microsoft for all her help.

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