©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
If you’re among the many marketers trying to grasp the game-changing impact of Xbox’s motion-controlled add-on Kinect, you’re not alone. Even Microsoft didn’t realize what it had on its hands. When launching in November, Microsoft predicted sales of 3 million units by the end of 2010. Instead, the company sold 8 million in two months and recently entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-selling consumer electronics product in history. For brands, the excitement is just beginning — and so are the challenges.
In addition to sensing motion, Microsoft’s newest periphery for the Xbox 360 recognizes voices, captures facial expressions in real time, and can even tell players apart. It’s arguably the biggest advance in mainstream digital interface design since the widespread adoption of the computer mouse in the ’80s.
Kinect and its underlying PrimeSense technology promise to open new doors and could explode our conceptions of what’s possible online. Today’s online world remains governed by the conventions of preset hyperlinks and point-and-click devices, but over time, those constraints will be shattered. The popularity of touchscreens on smartphones and tablets suggest we were already headed in this direction. Marketers may play an important role in determining how quickly Kinect technology crosses the chasm from hardcore gamers to mainstream adoption.