The new Xbox Kinect, a “controller free gaming and entertainment experience” by Microsoft, is a web-cam style add-on peripheral for the Xbox console which allows users to interact with the Xbox without the need to touch a game controller. The Kinect enables a naturalistic user interface using gestures, spoken commands or presented images and objects. It has been one of Microsoft's big success stories with over 2.5 million of the units being sold in the last few months alone. So, not suprisingly it was only a matter of time before sex specific games were being dreamt up and marketed by savvy game developers. While the technology is still very much in its preliminary stages, the idea of standing naked in your living room and engaging in virtual sexual acts definitely attracts a mass appeal. And while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, at least there are no strings (or wires) attached.
The folks over at joke site MotionSwinger have already imagined the possibilities. "Get naked and jump into the world of love with your Xbox 360 and Kinect! Preorder MotionSwinger now...only $49.99!" (In case you couldn't guess, this site is totally NSFW) Meanwhile, some wily folks have been hacking the device and getting it to do some pretty nifty stuff. So one can only imagine that somewhere...out there...someone is working on a homebrew game of virtual boom-boom. In fact, industrious tinkerer Dan Wilcox has already hacked the Kinect to track breasts — well, man boobs that is. But a real, honest-to-goodness Kinect sex game? While it's possible, it may not happen in any sort of, er, appealing way any time soon. (watch the video for a visual)
Kyle Machulis, a robotics engineer, sex-tech expert and the blogger behind Metafetish, has been giving Microsoft's device a good groping and has come to the conclusion that while Kinect sex and the use of the device in the making of and watching of pornography may be possible right now, it probably won't be particularly enjoyable to behold. Here's a bit of what he had to say (with some mild editing):
So what can the Kinect bring to sex? Well, probably not a good real time rendering of your (male genitals), or strap-on, or really any genitalia in a usable way for pornography. Why? Because that’s not really what it was made for. Microsoft put a ton of work into making the Kinect track the human body as a whole, so you can play games by jumping and running and generally acting the fool and feel like you’re in the game instead of just sad. Genitalia, for the most part, are not a major geometric feature of the human body when taken in perspective of physical size...Neither are they normally used in the control of video games, be they rated (for all) or (for adults only).
In this blog post, Machulis takes an in-depth look at how Kinect detects and translates movements of the human body and the short comings involved when X-Rated imagery is the goal. He summarizes:
In short, porn is about sex, but for many customers it’s also about being able to see the sex in a way that doesn’t make you think 'Wait, why does her arm detach completely when her boob is in front of it' or 'why does he have a penis shaped hole in his stomach.' The pattern the Kinect uses to get depth data is made for picking up full bodies to control video games, and therefore isn’t quite so good at picking up minutiae about those bodies.
Ultimately, however, Machulis knows what we all know: None of this will stop people from trying. "I bet we’ll see Kinect porn and possibly Kinect Skype services within the month," he writes. Welcome to the future!