The old Kinect was already impressive enough as-is, what with its low-latency 3D imaging and gesture recognition capabilities. If the old Kinect was the Wright brothers’ first successful airplane flight, the new Kinect is an F16 screaming through the skies at Mach 2. It’s impressive, is what we’re saying.
The new Kinect comes bundled with the Xbox One. It has a fully upgraded depth sensor that is three times as sensitive as the old Kinect’s, capable of picking out the wrinkles in your shirt. The functional area of the Kinect is now wider (a 60º improvement in the field of view) and deeper, allowing for up to six people being tracked by the Kinect at once. Twin 1080p-cameras provide absurd picture quality, taking in scenes at 60 frames per second. New technology lets the Kinect count how long it takes for light to return, an operation on the order of nanoseconds.
It can now do all this in a completely darkened room, thanks to its new and powerful system of infrared sensing that can map its surroundings without any visible light.
New software developed by Microsoft, run by in-house designed hardware and architecture on the Kinect, will allow it to perform feats of skill with astonishing precision and speed. The new Kinect can measure your heartbeat at a glance, by watching the depth of prominent pulse points on your body and counting the seconds in between beats. Muscle tracking algorithms can calculate the biomechanics of your movements—how off balance you are, what parts of your body are under pressure, how much power and speed your movements carry. Skeleton mapping allows the Kinect to track hand motions, and orientation calculation plays into how a player interacts with the in-game world. Facial recognition, helped by the double HD cameras, can not only spot and identify your face, but also check if you’re engaged or not engaged and choose to ignore voice commands if they don’t seem to be directed at the Xbox One. Speaking of speech recognition, the Kinect microphones and speech recognition software help to pick out, once acclimated, your voice, from background noise or other acoustic distractions.
When Skynet becomes self-aware and begins building Terminators, the headless robot bodies will no doubt storm their nearest electronics retailer and mount Kinect 2.0s on their shoulders. And when the last vestiges of the human resistance against the machines begin to flounder, they will flee the robots with the twin 1080p cameras, perfect night vision. And they will know that, even as they run with whatever feeble power their weak legs can provide, their heartrates are being taken by the staggering capabilities of the Kinect 2.0.