Microsoft’s Kinect had a rapid ascent and slow, sputtering demise — it was an inelegant end, as the company couldn’t find a permanent spot for the once revolutionary accessory. Now Microsoft is finally ready to put the final nail in that coffin.
Kinect creator Alex Kipman and Xbox GM Matthew Lapsen told Fast Co. that the company is finally end-of-lifing the peripheral, after a few years of taking the pedal off the gas. We’ve since confirmed the move with Microsoft.
It’s not for lack of trying, of course. After a debuting the 3D camera for the Xbox 360, the company started shipping the Kinect with its new Xbox One — but ultimately backed down making it mandatory part of the purchase. Ultimately, gamers seemed to prefer a more traditional game pad experience. As Nintendo can tell you, these sorts of activity-based gaming trends tend to regress back to the mean after a while.
Of course, that’s not to say the Kinect wasn’t a rousing success in its time. The device was truly revolutionary when it debuted in 2010, and all told, the company managed to move around 35 million units. The product’s depth sensing and voice recognition ushered in a new era of interactive gaming, going well beyond what Nintendo had managed with its Wiimotes, four years prior.
The power of the Kinect also extended well beyond the console. It was a relatively cheap and accessible and became a favorite of the DIY community, spawning a sub-genre of Kinect hacks. For a while, the things were popping up in the most unexpected places. Over the years I’ve visited a number of universities that have used them for everything from 3D scanning to robotic vision. In 2012, I took a trip the set of Laika’s stop motion film, ParaNorman, where one was being used for production.
So, pour one out for the bygone peripheral, but don’t mourn it too much. The Kinect was just too good to kill off completely. Depth sensing has made its way onto a number of devices in the meantime, from Project Tango to the iPhone X, and Microsoft is also utilizing the tech it built for current and future products.
“Manufacturing for Kinect for Xbox One has ended but it is not the end of the journey for the technology,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Kinect continues to delight tens of millions of Xbox owners and Kinect innovations live on in Xbox One, Windows 10, Cortana, Windows Holographic and future technologies.”