The Kinect motion-sensing camera has been both praised for its hands-free innovation and criticized for under-performing its initial promises. To Sony Computer Entertainment software engineer Anton Mikhailov, the issues with Kinect are more than skin deep.
“We’re not necessarily against Kinect or against depth cameras, it’s just we feel like Move has more applicability across more genres so it fits better with what we try to do,” said Mikhailov. “Also I think the tech is a bit, not so much immature, but not quite up to spec in what we think. Like the PlayStation Eye camera runs at 60 frames per second so it can track you very quickly whereas the Kinect and other depth camera are only 30 frames per second. So they are more suited for slower motions. Dancing is still kind of okay and then the yoga stuff that they were doing, it fits that very well, whereas if you want to do quick punches it’s harder to do that just because you can’t see the player as quickly. And there’s also more latency, things like that. So you know, it’s not a particularly sexy result, it’s just mostly technological problems.”
“We thought that they were just minor, well not so much minor. Marketing-wise they’re minor tech problems, technologically-wise they’re quite big,” he explained. “The fact that it runs at 30 frames per second instead of 60, that’s a common problem with all those cameras. It’s actually hard to fix because you have a lot of data to transport. Sort of working with that image is expensive computationally-wise. I think they quoted something like 10-15 percent of the Xbox resources, plus like 50 megs of memory or something like that. The Move takes less than one percent, and like one megabyte. So, you know, that’s just a bunch of numbers but to developers that means like Killzone 3 can just put in Move and not have to worry about it, whereas something like Kinect you have to make significant game changes to actually fit that into your game. So that’s a big plus for Move I think ’cause a lot of people can just try it out and put it in.
He also noted that much of what is done on Kinect is possible with the PlayStation Eye. “Kinect can sense the distance to an object whereas the [PlayStation] Eye has to do that through – Kinect kind of gets that for free, that’s part of its output, whereas with the Eye we have to do vision algorithms to get that,” he explained. “So something like Kung Fu Live, so that does background subtraction, so Kinect again gets that for free whereas with the Eye we have to do some algorithms. It’s always more robust when you get it in the hardware but the reality is we can still do a lot of these features with just the Eye and if the users are happy with both then we’re equivalent in that sense.”