Microsoft has increased its sales forecast for the Kinect by almost 70%, saying it expects to sell 5 million of the hands-free control systems for the Xbox 360 video game console by the end of the year.
Microsoft, which officially launched the Kinect at a New York event at midnight Wednesday, said before the launch that pre-sales, retail orders, and consumer interest indicated that sales this year would beat its original forecast of 3 million units by 2 million. The new estimate would make the Kinect the "biggest Xbox accessory debut in terms of sales," the company said in an emailed statement.
The Kinect system consists of a bar that 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 highly anticipated Kinect is expect to give the video game industry a boost after a year of slow sales. Sales of video game software and equipment in physical stores in September were down 8% from the same month a year ago, according to the NPD Group.
The Kinect is expected to drive sales of the Xbox 360, as well as games developed for the device. Also expected to boost industry sales this year is Sony's Move, the first motion-sensing device for the PlayStation 3 console. Sony released the Move in September, and sold 1 million units in the first 30 days, according to the company.
Unlike the Kinect, the Move requires the user to move a handheld control, similar to how Nintendo operates the motion-sensing control for the Wii. Microsoft and Sony are hoping the new hardware will boost sales of their respective consoles during the holiday shopping season.
Microsoft has set a suggested retail price for the standalone Kinect at $149, which includes Kinect Adventures, an exploration game designed to take full advantage of the Kinect technology. The device will also be sold as a package with the Xbox 360.