After Microsoft announced late last year that it would no longer be manufacturing Kinect cameras, we thought the accessory couldn’t get any more dead. But we were wrong.
In some kind of zombie hunting mission, Microsoft has now announced (opens in new tab)that it’s no longer producing the Xbox Kinect Adaptor. This adaptor allowed Xbox One S, Xbox One X and Windows PC users to use the device without the dedicated port that was dropped after the original Xbox One.
You may have ended up with one of these adaptors completely by accident when Microsoft threw it at your head – sorry, released it for free – after the release of the Xbox One S. After this, it started selling it separately but it wasn’t long before retailer stock dried up last year.
Not even a peripheral look in
Now, Microsoft is looking to focus on the things that will actually sell, with a spokesperson telling Polygon (opens in new tab) that it was looking to focus on making “higher fan-requested gaming accessories.”
This isn’t entirely surprising – it makes sense that Microsoft would stop selling an accessory for a peripheral it no longer makes. The demand must have dried up very quickly if it was still there at all, as most people who were going to buy the adaptor would have done so already.
If you didn’t grab one and you don’t have an original Xbox One lying around your only chance of experiencing Kinect is to find an adaptor second-hand.Though there isn’t much in the way of must-have software to drive such a desperate search, it’s still somewhat sad to see a peripheral that once had so much potential disappear with such finality.
A promising start
After all, like all of us, the Kinect didn’t come into the world as a failure and disappointment. When it was first released for the Xbox 360 in November 2010, Microsoft seemed genuinely sure that it would be a success and it was marketed with ferocity. This worked for a time – in 2011 it was recognized as the fastest selling consumer device.
However, it never felt like a particularly essential accessory for the Xbox 360 and it was fairly expensive to purchase As a result, interest and sales dropped off quickly but Microsoft wasn’t willing to give up.
When the Xbox One was first released in 2013, it was bundled with the Kinect. Partnering the motion-sensing camera with a brand-new console probably seemed like a good way to reignite interest in it, but unfortunately for Microsoft it didn’t go down particularly well.
The original Xbox One had a difficult launch for a myriad of reasons but one of the biggest has to have been the Kinect. It inflated the cost of purchasing the console beyond what most considered reasonable and this looked particularly bad when compared to the much more reasonably-priced (and more powerful) PS4.
Sure, it brought gesture and voice control to the console but these were the days before voice assistants were actually appealing. Unsurprisingly, not many people wanted to shout “Xbox On” and stand like inflatable tube men when sitting on the sofa and pressing a button would achieve the same results.
It also didn’t help that the original Xbox One was a chunky bit of kit. It was notoriously big and forcing the Kinect camera into the setup didn’t make it any more appealing for those with limited space.
Following fan backlash, these bundles stopped and Microsoft took a big step back from the Kinect. Software supporting the device didn’t just take the back seat, it was shoved into the trunk of the car and eventually even gesture support was dropped.
It was when Microsoft removed the Kinect port from the Xbox One S entirely that it became clear the camera’s days were numbered.
This is a design decision that was carried over to the new Xbox One X, released not long after it was confirmed that the Kinect camera would no longer be manufactured.
Now that its lifeline adapter has disappeared, the Kinect doesn’t really have any kind of future, and sad as it is, Microsoft is probably making the right decision from a consumer perspective.
Leaving a legacy
From a technology perspective, though, Microsoft should have no regrets when it comes to the Kinect. It may never had reached gamers in the way that the company hopes, but its technology has been effectively repurposed for some more exciting projects.
The HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, for example, use the camera’s depth-sensing abilities and 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, just on a much smaller scale.
As a standalone device, the Kinect is now almost certainly dead but its legacy is not entirely negative. We’ll remember Kinectimals fondly.