Tech Seriousmenu


Discover the Xbox's motion wand controller

With the resounding worldwide success of the Nintendo Wii, both Sony and Microsoft sought to develop motion wand controllers in order to directly compete with the Wii's unique gameplay system. For Sony, the end result was the PS Move. For Microsoft's Xbox platform, it was the Kinect. The Kinect was first released in the autumn of 2010.

One of the unique features of the Kinect controller was its compatibility not only with the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, but also with Microsoft's Windows operating system. This instantly gave the Kinect far-reaching appeal in a much larger market, which early sales figures supported. Statistics showed that approximately 8 million Kinect units were sold in the first two months of the controller's availability, making the Kinect one of the fastest-selling products in the recorded history of commerce.

Technical Specifications

Here are the technical specifications for the Kinect controller:

  • Connectivity: USB 2.0
  • RGB camera resolution: 30 hertz, 640 x 480 pixels
  • Depth camera resolution: 30 hertz, 640 x 480 pixels
  • Depth sensor: Infrared laser with monochrome CMOS sensor
  • Ranging limit: approximately 4 feet to 11 feet
  • Bit depth: 11 bits
  • Angular field of view: 43 degrees (vertical); 57 degrees (horizontal)
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows 7 and up

The Kinect is noted for performing extremely well under ambient light conditions, and has the unique ability to sense and compensate for objects in the room such as furniture. However, one of the drawbacks of the Kinect is that it is not compatible with wireless Bluetooth technologies. In fact, Microsoft had to develop a proprietary type of USB connector for the Kinect controller, since it required more electrical input than the Xbox could deliver through a standard USB connector.

The Kinect for Windows Platforms

Windows 7 and all subsequent versions of the operating system are automatically compatible with the Kinect controller, and it can be used for cloud gaming, PC gaming, and a range of other applications. Features of the Kinect for Windows include a color camera sensor, an omnidirectional microphone, depth-sensing streams, and a wide range of audio processing capabilities that can be used for game input. One of its most impressive features is its skeletal tracking feature, which enables the Kinect to track specific players through recognition of their skeletal forms. This feature enables highly precise rendering of inputs requiring player movement.

The Xbox One Update

Microsoft announced that the Kinect controller would be bundled with its Xbox One console when the new console was released. Improvements to the Kinect controller released with the Xbox One included the ability to detect a player's facial expression, increases or decreases in heart rate, the speed of a person's movements, and the movement rate and movement direction of over two dozen joints in the body. These capabilities placed the Kinect at the forefront of motion wand controller technology, though in practical terms, they had relatively minimal impact on a player's gaming experience.

Buy the Kinect Controller

You can purchase new and used Kinect controllers from a wide range of both traditional retailers and online vendors. If you are interested in a used Kinect, it may be a better idea to buy one through a traditional retailer, which will allow you to physically test out the controller and inspect it before finalizing your purchase. If you're going to buy a used Kinect controller from an online dealer or private party, make sure that you have the ability to return the product for a refund if it doesn't perform as advertised.

New Kinect controllers are widely available from thousands of retailers. If you're going to shop online, compare prices carefully and be sure to take sales taxes and shipping costs into account before completing your purchase.

Accessories for Consoles