Microsoft Kinect In-Game Lag Problems Solved?

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If you've had a chance to try out Microsoft's Kinect at games conventions or any of the company's touring demos, you've probably experienced moments where you shift quickly from one gesture to another and the game doesn't quite keep up.

[PCWorld's full Kinect review]

It's called lag, as in "lags behind," as in "not keeping pace with." It's subtle, and Kinect's games are casually forgiving enough to hide it well, but it's there, curbing hopes that we'll eventually see enthusiast-grade apps capable of tracking split-second motions. You know, say you're playing a souped up martial arts brawler and want the sensor to follow every move accurately and synchronously.

Not so fast, say the animation wizards at NaturalMotion. In an interview with Develop, the company claims its new Kinect module for animation middleware tool Morpheme can essentially terminate in-game lag.

"Lag times in Kinect are just not a problem with the right filtering algorithms and judicious use of motion input in different situations," NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil told the game site.

NaturalMotion hopes to sell its Morpheme tool to developers who want to fine-tune games in subtle ways it says Microsoft's SDK and core dev tools won't. According to Reil, these include "retargeting and noise reduction" and facilitating "a tight integration into a graphically authorable [sic] animation engine."

The company says it's already licensed the tech out to "multiple studios." So while the first round or two of Kinect games probably won't let you snatch virtual flies out of the air with a pair of simulated chopsticks, who knows what this sort of middleware and a little applicative ingenuity might yield in a year or two.

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At a Glance
  • Intrepid but flawed, Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensor for Xbox 360 offers true controller-free gaming at a reasonable price, but suffers from serious accuracy and tracking issues.


    • Reasonably priced
    • Tremendous future potential
    • Massive launch game line-up


    • Accuracy problems
    • Incomplete or missing features
    • Inconsistent interface
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