Microsoft has put a hard ‘K’ into death knell by revealing that it’s no longer manufacturing the Kinect camera in an exclusive interview with Fast Co Design (opens in new tab).
After going full-steam ahead when it launched the device for the Xbox 360 in November 2010, Microsoft drew back from it in later years to refocus its consoles more around traditional gaming.
The impact of Microsoft’s decision to ease off is very apparent when looking at sales figures - despite being recognised as the fastest selling consumer device of 2011, the accessory has only sold around 35 million units overall according to Fast Co.
Microsoft did, admittedly, try to reignite interest in the Kinect by bundling it with Xbox One consoles, but this was quickly stopped. The fact that there wasn’t even a Kinect port built into the later Xbox One S was already a good indication that Microsoft was giving up on the technology from a consumer standpoint.
That’s not to say the Kinect has been a waste of time for Microsoft. Though the depth-sensing camera and microphone didn’t quite achieve mainstream success, it was popular amongst hacker communities who used the device to create experiences that required body-tracking.
For Microsoft itself, the Kinect technology has been re-purposed for other projects. HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, for example, make use of its depth-sensing, while many Windows laptops now have cameras with its facial recognition technology.
Even outside of Microsoft, the Kinect is having an impact. The depth-sensing camera on Apple’s iPhone X, for example, works in much the same way as a Kinect but on a much smaller scale.
It seems that as a standalone device, Kinect was never going to succeed but all of the research and technology behind it will allow it to live on.