The Kinect sensor built up a lot of anticipation when it was first announced in 2009 during the Xbox 360‘s life cycle, with announcements and conceptual videos to show where the future will take us with such technology and what they planned to deliver using it. From the ability to control your console using your voice to being able to scan physical objects into the game you’re playing to create custom personal skins (their example was a skateboard). You could stand in front of the Kinect and virtually see what a piece of clothing would look like on your body as you spin around. You could play virtual sports through various physical gestures as you interact in front of it. All of this makes for a fantastic interactive experience.
Of course, conceptual videos and reality don’t always align up when it comes to a product’s release. It did a number of the things they had bragged about, but it still lacked a lot of function that depended on future development to bring any of it into reality. Meanwhile, it still took off with games like Kinect Sports that led to hours of fun by users, making a great party favor for group activities. It did a great job of distracting players as we waited for new features to come.
When the Xbox One came along later on, it brought with it its own version of the Kinect offering a better camera and hardware. At first it came with the unit itself until they later separated it as an optional device in order to bring the initial cost of the system down. Since then there has been little talk about Kinect and few games that won any attention in regards to it. Less and less Xbox One users opted to buy a Kinect and questions began to rise about whether or not it will have a future. It gets worse from there when the Xbox One S released and required an adapter in order to hook one up.
Microsoft has now answered this in an interview with Fast Company, where Alex Kipman (Creator of the Kinect) explained that Microsoft is discontinuing the Kinect and will stop shipping new units to stores both on and offline. This means if you do have an interest in getting your hands on one, this would be the prime time to snag one before the units that are left on store shelves sell off completely.
They will continue to support the Kinect, allowing you to still make use of it if you have one. They just won’t be shipping anymore to stores. In the future, Microsoft may integrate the same technology into new devices, allowing them to achieve the same results with a different method perhaps (hopefully, having something already in the plan is what has lead to them making this decision). With the continued push for AR/VR in gaming, you know something will pop up eventually. Until then, any Kinect you see on a store shelf will be a rare breed waiting to find a few last homes.
RIP Kinect. You have been a lot of fun all these years. Now we will have to actually leave our homes to go bowling with friends.