New Xbox motion detector could change the way cars are advertised
Microsoft is hoping that its new motion sensitive user interface will revolutionise gaming when it goes on sale at the end of the year, but the controller-free system could also herald a dramatic change in the way car manufacturers reveal their products to the customer.
Kinect for Xbox 360 was officially unveiled at this month's E3 show in California. The system, which plugs into the existing console, tracks human movement without the need for a controller, allowing players to mime the physical actions required by the game.
In the case of racing games this will mean holding your hands on an imaginary steering wheel and 'turning' the car around a track. Microsoft is hoping that this less complicated approach (the initial crop of driving games will brake and accelerate for you) will encourage the whole family to play rather than just console-savvy children.
But the system's accessibility could also be critical to manufacturers keen to invest in new ways of projecting their latest products directly into peoples' homes.
Kinect will allow users to physically interact with the car on the screen in a far more organic way than had previously been permitted with hand held controllers.
As the video of the Forza Motorsport demonstration shows, Kinect is sophisticated enough to allow you to move around the car and explore different components as they catch your interest. From a manufacturer's point of view, a prospective customer would be able to discover the new features of its latest model in the comfort of their own home, perhaps even compare it to other trim levels in the range or even past generations of the same car.
Some would argue that companies have been advertising their cars for years simply by allowing them to be included in popular driving games, but that approach only targets the teenagers and young men who choose to play such titles. If Kinect succeeds in attracting an older generation – particularly the parents who actually buy new cars – then the potential audience for a new kind of interactive advert could prove irresistible to manufacturers.
Already this week, Chevrolet announced that it had incorporated the new system into a multi screen advertising campaign that had been conceived with Microsoft to promote the new Volt. The car will even feature in the first racing game to be introduced when Kinect is released.