Microsoft’s full-body motion controller Kinect, formally known as Natal, may enable mute players to have better options for communicating with their friends over X-Box LIVE. While the interface previously allowed users to utilize the chat pad to talk to their party over LIVE, this is a fairly clumsy and inconvenient way of chatting. This is set to change with Kinect, which apparently recognizes American Sign Language and can relay the signing to the party.
While this is a fairly unprecedented use for Kinect, it is rather ingenious on Microsoft’s part to include this function. While we all take the ability to talk for granted, there are segments of the gaming population that aren’t so lucky. This could open LIVE to a whole new branch of gamers, so I for one applaud Microsoft for thinking of handicapped gamers in this instance.
Update: Well, I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect, and it seems that I’ve got some backtracking to do on this one. In VG247’s original article, it mentioned that a patent that indicated Kinect’s ability to understand and relay American Sign Language. However wonderful a dream this may have been, it’s not the case in real life. Kinect will not recognize ASL at launch, and will probably never have the ability to do so. In order to reach the $150 retail price, Microsoft had to cut some features from Kinect to “dumb it down”, and ASL capability was on the chopping block. It’s a shame, because this would have been a really cool addition to the motion camera. Mea culpa. Read the whole story here: Kotaku