Kinecting Beyond Gaming
Today's Kinect retrospective post from engadget's Timothy J. Seppala, is a great summary of something we've highlighted many times over the years, how the Kinect was so much more than a gaming device...
Former NIN art director and a game developer discuss the camera's legacy.
The truth is that Kinect's greatest successes had nothing to do with gaming. Hackers adopted the sensor with open arms, using it for everything from interactive art installations to motion capture and even trippy stage shows for massive bands like Nine Inch Nails. Why? Because for the tech that's on board, Kinect was relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
"It's become the standard for interactive art because it's affordable," Rob Sheridan, NIN's former art director, told Engadget. "That's the best gift you can give someone who has a vision of something creative."
He compared the sensor and Microsoft's quasi-open source approach to it to the advent of digital video at the turn of the century, and how that democratized video editing and production. "People can create interactive art in their bedroom now, and that's something that everybody remembers as an important milestone in moving a creative medium forward."
For 2013's tour, things were different. NIN partnered with Moment Factory again, but instead of homemade gear, the production company had a simpler solution. "All of the clunky hardware they labored over so hard to get to work was now [replaced with] 'Oh, just plug a Kinect in,'" Sheridan said.
He used the sensors extensively as a way to capture the band's shadows, and to digitally manipulate the silhouettes on rollable LED panels. Each panel had a Kinect mounted to it, and as the set list went on, the shadows would get progressively glitchier. With Kinect, the only problems the band encountered were ones that involved a cord getting knocked loose. "The difference was mind-blowing," he recalled.
Looking to the future, he hopes some of the Kinect tech, like facial recognition, keeps popping up elsewhere -- like it already has in Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone X. He proposed that since it's happening for face filters and without "a crazy NASA-like" device such as Kinect, maybe we aren't far off from easy silhouette recognition in more places.
Microsoft has said that there's plenty of Kinect's technology in HoloLens, too, and that its work on the sensor helped push HoloLens to where it is today. Sheridan has seen Microsoft's helmet, and while he's cautious, he thinks it could have a similarly bright future for interactive art.
"I've seen where they're taking [HoloLens] with AR, and I feel like if they embrace creativity the same way they did with Kinect, it could be the next Kinect."
Project Information URL: https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/27/xbox-one-kinect-legacy-obituary-nine-inch-nails-fru/
Thumbnail Image credit: Will Lipman / Engadget
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