Microsoft is ending production of Kinect, marking the end of an era that never was. The peripheral was created for the Xbox 360 but never truly found its home in the market and the company is now moving forward without this technology in its portfolio.
The device is one that showed a significant amount of promise with its ability to track people and objects by only using cameras but after selling 35 million units, Kinect is no more. Microsoft had lofty ambitions for the technology and even bundled it with the Xbox, which ended up being a mistake, but this also helped get the device into more households.
The news comes from an interview with FastCoDesign where Microsoft acknowledged the end of the device’s production but I will say, it’s an overly positive piece about the hardware coming to an end. The author states “I don’t believe it an exaggeration to say that Kinect has been the single most influential, or at least prescient, piece of hardware outside of the iPhone.”
In my opinion, the Kinect was not a runaway success or even all that influential for what it achieved. Was it an impressive piece of technology for the time, absolutely, but as we look around the world today, we don’t see these types of devices everywhere or even their influence impacting much of what we do today.
That being said, the Kinect was a unique approach for Microsoft to explore interacting with computers without the need for a keyboard and mouse. The gaming aspect was a way to introduce the concept to consumers but it did not find significant success in the home as the novelty of jumping in your house quickly vanished as there are only so many different types of games that can use this technology.
Microsoft tried to show how this product could be used in many different places and scenarios such as in a hospital too but it always felt like a solution looking for a problem.
With the end of Kinect comes the end of another cycle in Microsoft’s pursuit of exploring new ways to interact with technology. I don’t think I could say that the Kinect was a success during its lifetime as it certainly was unique but ultimately it’s demise is cemented in the fact that the company is no longer building the product.