With motion-based gaming taking a backseat this generation, Microsoft announced today that they would be discontinuing the ambitious and interactive Kinect accessory for Xbox. As reported on Fast Co Design, the company will wait for shareholders to liquidate their stock before officially ending production. Since its release in November 2010, the gadget has sold about 35 million units, and though it never had a truly memorable piece of software, its legacy—and components—will live on.
Originally called “Project Natal” and announced in 2009 as “the world’s first system to combine an RGB camera, depth sensor, multiarray microphone and custom processor running proprietary software,” the Kinect was a technical marvel at the time. Using a series of infrared dots for room mapping and the ability to recognize 31 different body parts, the device’s incredible tracking ability absolutely dwarfed the technical prowess of both the Wii and the PlayStation Move. Where the other two needed controllers, Kinect users only needed to wave their hands or issue a command to interact with the system.
While the machinery was impressive, the lineup of games unfortunately didn’t hit the same mark. Bolstered by easy draws like Just Dance but hampered by serious misfires like Rise of Nightmares, the catalog was slim and inconsistent. That didn’t stop the sales, though—Kinect Adventures, essentially the Wii Sports of the Kinect, is forever the Xbox 360’s highest-selling game with a whopping 24 million units sold.
No new Kinects will hit the market, but its components have already found life in other devices. Engineers for Microsoft’s VR project HoloLens were able to add motion tracking by integrating the Kinect’s sensor. Apple’s forthcoming iPhone X has virtually an entire Kinect built into it—courtesy of PrimeSense, the developer of Kinect, which Apple acquired in 2013. Even development of Google’s own 3D tracking device, codenamed Project Tango, is led by a former member of the Kinect team.
Though its time has passed, Microsoft’s forward-thinking gadget had a successful run. Someday we’ll look back on it from our fully-immersive ancestor simulations and laugh at how primitive it is in hindsight, but for now, it has set the edge in the tech world.