While the Kinect sensor is considered somewhat controversial by some Xbox fans, it still provides the best way to interact with your console: By voice. But getting Kinect up and running with a new Xbox One S requires a few extra steps. Here’s how it works.
You’ll need two things before you can start.
The first and most obvious is an Xbox One Kinect Sensor, which I will simply call “Kinect” from here on out. (That said, be sure to use the right version; the Xbox 360 Kinect sensor will not work, for example.) There are two ways that most Xbox One S owners will acquire such a thing: You have one that came with their original Xbox One purchase that they’d like to use with the new console; or you can simply buy one for about $90. (This and some other links here are affiliate links.)
Second, you’re going to need an adapter. Unlike the original Xbox One, the Xbox One S does not come with a proprietary Kinect port, so you can’t simply plug the peripheral into your new console. Microsoft currently sells a Kinect Adapter for Windows that costs about $50. And in September, Microsoft will begin shipping a cheaper ($40) Xbox Kinect Adapter for Xbox One S and Windows 10 PC adapter that looks like exactly the same part. So if you can wait, I suppose you could save $10.
Speaking of waiting, you may be able to get the adapter for free: For a limited time, Microsoft is providing a free adapter to customers who have an existing Xbox One console and Xbox One Kinect Sensor, and buy an Xbox One S console, and wish to use the sensor with the new console. But you have to contact Microsoft Support via phone or, better, online chat to get it.
IMPORTANT: If you wish to take advantage of this offer, you need to register all three of these devices with Microsoft online beforecontacting Microsoft Support, and you must have the serial number for all three devices ready, as support will ask you for this information (plus your shipping information).
If you do take advantage of the free adapter offer, be prepared to wait about 10 days for it arrive. I did go through this process, and it was time consuming and a bit irritating, but armed with all three serial numbers, I was able to get through it.
Make the connection
Once you’ve got all the pieces in place—the Xbox One S console, the Kinect, and the Kinect adapter—you can put it all together. The Kinect adapter is a mess of wires and plugs, but it’s obvious enough that most will be able to string it all together without needing instructions. And the wires are long enough that you shouldn’t have any trouble getting to connected to the Kinect, the console, and power.
IMPORTANT: There is one gotcha with the physical connection: The adapter must be plugged into a specific USB port. As you may know, there are three USB ports on Xbox One S, one on the front and two on the back. The Kinect-compatible port is the one next to the HDMI-In port. Microsoft says this port is labeled “Kinect,” but that is not the case on my console. If you do plug Kinect into the wrong port, no worries: You’ll be prompted to move it.
You can plug in Kinect while your console is on, it doesn’t matter either way. But when you do plug it in, nothing happens. So you’ll need to visit a few places in Settings to get up and running.
Configure Kinect and Cortana
To configure Kinect, navigate to Settings, Kinect & Devices, and then select Kinect. Kinect settings appears.
Here, you configure a few basic and obvious settings. But you can also calibrate your Kinect, which is probably a good idea since it’s new to this console no matter how you obtained it. Xbox will actually prompt you to do this, but you can trigger the calibration manually by selecting “I moved my Kinect sensor or I’m having trouble with Kinect” in Kinect settings. Or, if you just intend to use Kinect’s voice functionality—as I do—just select “Kinect doesn’t hear me.”
In both cases, a wizard will guide you through the process of calibrating your Kinect, either completely (the first option) or for audio only (the latter).
Next, you should choose between Cortana- and Xbox-style voice commands. (Sadly, you can’t use both.) Cortana is new to Xbox One with the August Update, as you may know, and it integrates with the Cortana cloud services and the Cortana apps you may use elsewhere in Windows 10 or your phone. That said, Cortana is much slower than the standard Xbox commands—mostly because it’s much more ponderous to say, “Hey, Cortana” than “Xbox”—so you have a decision to make.
I’ll examine Cortana usage on Xbox One S in the future. For now, however, let’s look at the new Cortana settings, which can be found in Settings, System, Cortana.
The most important option here is “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more.” It’s selected by default, which means that your Xbox One S is using Cortana rather than Xbox-style voice commands. If you turn this option off, however, you’ll be prompted about disabling Cortana and will need to restart the console.
After the restart, “Xbox” voice commands—“Xbox, home,” “Xbox, record that” and so on—will work as before.
If you do leave Cortana on, there’s a whole world of new capabilities to explore. And while I’ll be saving most of that for future articles, here are two items to get you started.
First, Cortana works on Xbox One S much like it does on your Windows 10 PC or phone, and it even presents the same vertical user interface, in this case on the right side of the screen, as its non-console counterparts. You can even view and edit your notebook, and perform other maintenance tasks.
Second, when you use Cortana with Xbox One, there’s a handy “Kinect mic for chat” toggle right in the Xbox Guide flyout panel: This lets you toggle the Kinect mic on and off on the fly, and it good to know about if you don’t intend other gamers to hear your mumbling, swearing, and singing to yourself while you compete against them online.
Note: It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need a Kinect to use Cortana on Xbox One: You can use a controller-based microphone as well. That’s OK for gamers, but Kinect is the way to go for anyone who intends to control their console by voice in the living room.
I’ll have more about Cortana on Xbox One S in the weeks ahead.