Microsoft's hands-free controller for Xbox 360 games will be available just before the 2010 holiday season kicks into full gear.
Retailers have begun taking pre-orders for Microsoft's new Xbox Kinect hands-free control system, and at least one is promising to ship the gaming platform and compatible titles by the previously announced released date.
Microsoft on Tuesday said it plans to introduce a Kinect bundle that includes a new, slimmed down 4GB Xbox 360 console equipped with the Kinect sensor bar.
The package also features Kinect Adventures, an exploration game designed to take full advantage of the Kinect technology.
The bundle and related products will ship starting November 4, according to information on Amazon's Web site as of Wednesday. Assuming no production delays, Amazon's ship date for Kinect confirms previously announced information from Microsoft. Other retailers, including Best Buy and Walmart, are also taking pre-orders for Kinect, but have yet to post specific ship dates.
Microsoft is hoping Kinect will give it a leg up on rivals Nintendo and Sony during the crucial holiday sales period. "With full body, voice, and the ability to play games with your friends right out of the box, Kinect is the most unique, complete, and affordable way for everyone to enjoy controller-free fun and entertainment," said Dennis Durkin, chief operating officer for Microsoft's Xbox 360 group, in a statement Tuesday.
Microsoft also said it plans to make the Kinect sensor bar available as an add-on for existing Xbox 360 consoles, at a price of $149, including Kinect Adventures.
The Kinect bar features a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. That means players can control on-screen action simply through physical gestures and verbal commands. The sensor bar is designed to plug directly into the Xbox 360 console.
The new 4GB Xbox 360 can also be bought separately for $199, starting August 3rd.
The roster of upcoming Kinect-compatible titles includes a Star Wars game from LucasArts that's due out in 2011, as well as unspecified titles from Disney. More immediately, Microsoft and its partners will ship a number of activity games in November that take advantage of Kinect's ability to mimic human body movements.
A title called Kinectimals (Frontier Studios) lets players interact with on screen zoo animals, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Ubisoft) provides exercise routines with the help of a virtual, on-screen trainer, while Kinect Sports (Rare) lets users play simulated soccer, bowling, volleyball, and other games.
Kinect Joy Ride (Big Park) is billed as the world's first hands free racing game, and Dance Central (MTV Games) allows players to groove to tunes by artists like Lady Gaga, No Doubt, M.I.A., and more.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.