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Xbox One Kinect and its utter failure for first time users

One of Xbox One’s stand out features is its ability to centralize the TV experience in the home, making for an integrated system that keeps viewers in the Xbox One dashboard but allows for control of the TV. It’s a neat feature being able to utter the words “Xbox On” and the TV powering up alongside the console. However, the whole set up is simply plagued with problems and when being used by someone who is less tech savvy is an utter mess resulting in failure of epic proportions.

kinect 2 - 2

The problem stems from the fact that the so called simplicity of use isn’t simple at all and does in fact require some learning. Whilst some people might “get it” right away, not everyone is the same, and their learning abilities might differ.

Introducing the Xbox One into my household was met with some excitement from my non gaming partner. However, already I feel a sense of antagonistic hatred brewing beneath the surface simply because Kinect is  a pain to use.

As you would expect, I am well versed in using Kinect, having been weaned on the Xbox 360 and going through all the pains that brought to the table. Kinect 2 was supposed to address many of the issues and present a more robust and workable system. Yet, it doesn’t. For me I can use Kinect’s voice commands with a high success rate, but this is me who knows what do to and understands how things work. My partner on the other hand who has no time or patience having to repeat phrases is struggling.

The biggest issue here aside from the fact that Kinect’s voice commands make little sense (more about this in a moment), is the lack of tutorial for those who might need it.  The Xbox One assumes that out of the gate the user is going to know what to do, and yet, whilst I can work its magic in an instant, my partner can’t in terms of what she is using it for.

In a nutshell, the voice commands can be sketchy where on several occasions in a quiet room the Kinect sensor fails to operate.  It’s as if it locks up. I have explained that there needs to be a pause between any spoken word so Kinect can work out its being addressed correctly rather than picking up cues from a conversation, but even then, this can be problematic.

So, this morning I am lying in bed and I can hear my partner getting up for the day, readying herself for a hard day at the office in the limited time she has available in the morning  before jumping on the subway with scores of other early risers. I hear “Xbox On” followed by the sound of the TV switching on, and I smile in acknowledgement that this works as intended. Except rather than switch on the SKY HD box as well this is left off and adds another layer to the Xbox On command that’s seems counterproductive. “Xbox watch TV” is uttered  followed by silence. For some reason, the Xbox One is not detecting the signal from the SKY HD box. There’s silence for a moment, followed by the sound of the SKY TV working. In this instance my partner has been briefed to reset the SKY HD box by switching it off and then on using the remote when this happens – not exactly a seamless transition that one would expect and certainly not selling the whole idea to a partner who is becoming more skeptical through each passing moment.

So, the TV works. That’s great but what about taking advantage of the free to play Xbox Fitness? My partner often works out in the morning, and so a 10 minute cardio work out using the Xbox seems like a good idea especially as we both enjoyed Ubisoft’s Your Shape Fitness Evolved on the Xbox 360.

Xbox Fitness Hero

“Xbox go to fitness”… The correct command is issued, except the screen jumps to achievements instead.  “Xbox go to fitness” and the screen jumps to settings. A third time and the screen jumps to friends and my partner is beginning to get angry as emphasized by her changed tone when addressing the console. I chip in and simply suggest she use the controller which she picks up and finds no response… I inform her she needs to switch the controller on…*sigh!*

Once the controller is switched on I then instruct her to go to the fitness tab, which she selects and it works. I trundle back to bed. For some reason, Xbox Fitness does not use hand gesture navigation, and the voice commands do not work at all, so that controller is very much needed after all despite the so called flagship voice command tech being an integral part of the system *sigh!*

After 10 minutes of thumping on the floor from the rigorous fitness routine I hear, “Xbox go to TV”…Nothing. “Xbox go to TV” I shout from the bedroom, “it’s Xbox watch TV”, but this is met with silence and some heavy footsteps.

Another 10 minutes or so passes, and the last thing I hear before the front door is slammed is.  “Xbox Off”…”Xbox off”…silence. The TV is then turned off using the remote meanwhile the Xbox One is still switched on and simply left to its own devices.

Sitting in bed I ponder the thought that Xbox One Kinect is an utter failure for casual people simply because the voice commands are so backwards. Why doesn’t “Xbox Off” work in the same way as “Xbox On” whose idea was it to make it “Xbox turn off” as opposed to “Xbox switch off” or even “TV off”.  Microsoft might proclaim that it will improve the voice commands over time , but this is no good right now when trying to sell the idea to non gaming partners.

The whole calibration and ease of use stinks of a rush job that’s ultimately fine for those with patience, but isn’t so welcoming for those who want to get where they are going with the minimal amount of fuss. In this case I am beginning to sense the sentiment from my partner “Xbox **** off”. However, being understanding, what is required is a lesson in how to use the Xbox One properly — something which should have been included with the system as standard for all of its functions.

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