Feeling the Kinect Effect

When Microsoft launched Kinect for Xbox 360 one year ago this week, our initial focus was controller-free games and entertainment. Once only the stuff of science fiction, Kinect became a phenomenon across the globe.

Within the first 60 days, Kinect sold more than 8 million sensors, setting the Guinness Book World Record as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. It extended the realm of what’s possible for a traditional gaming console and changed the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, bringing new categories of consumers to Xbox 360. 

We knew we had a hit in gaming and entertainment on our hands. After all, we’d been testing it and playing games ourselves for a while, so we knew what magic felt like. We also knew that we were delivering a platform, one that was bigger than the living room, and bound only by the imagination and ingenuity of the world… which is to say, the sky was the limit.

Almost immediately following the launch of Kinect, hobbyists and academics from around the world embraced Kinect possibilities in ways that surprised and delighted. And with the launch of a non-commercial software development kit, we saw even more exciting and creative applications in the areas of healthcare, rehab, education and so much more. As we watched these stories unfold, the term “The Kinect Effect” emerged in hallway conversations at Microsoft as a way to describe the amazing and creative ways Kinect was being used.

Kinect Effect” stories began pouring in with personal accounts and YouTube videos from around the world showing how Kinect was helping transform and improve the way people work, create, and perform daily activities. We saw Kinect being used by therapists and physicians as part of a rehabilitation program for stroke victims, as a skill-building technique for children with autism, and as an application for hospitals in Spain enabling surgeons to scroll through medical images in the operating room with gestures so they could avoid the need to rescrub. Incredible stuff.

So, what’s next? To further fuel innovation and imagination, we will offer a Kinect for Windows commercial program early next year. We recognize the intense commercial interest in harnessing the capabilities of Kinect, and are working with a wide range of companies and developers to create a great set of tools and APIs. In fact, our commercial pilot program has already received more than 200 applications from top companies in more than 20 countries spanning 25 unique industries, eager to explore the possibilities of Kinect beyond Xbox 360! 

This belief that our ideas PLUS the ideas and ingenuity of others is more powerful than either alone is central to Microsoft. The Kinect Effect is the latest in a long list!

Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” Last year was an incredible year for the Kinect Effect, and with so many fantastic ideas made real in just the one year, I can’t wait to look back in nine!

Posted by Frank X. Shaw
Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications, Microsoft