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Kinect can't read sign language after all

Due to camera's lower resolution.

Microsoft has said the Kinect camera for Xbox 360 won't be able to understand sign language after all - at least for the time being.

A patent for the device, spotted last week, suggested sign language recognition would be a feature.

But Microsoft has since told Kotaku, "Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language."

According to Kotaku's sources it's all down to the camera's resolution, which was much higher in the original design. The model making it to market later this year has a lower resolution and therefore isn't able to recognise individual fingers as well as limbs.

"Patents are about protecting inventions and their uses - it doesn't follow that everything you read in the patent will make its way into the final shipping device," explains Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter.

"Patent applications need to be far-reaching enough to cover not only current technology but also subsequent evolutions of it, or spin-off ideas based on the same fundamental concepts. "Sign language recognition is a step beyond the final shipping device - the resolution just isn't there - but then the application also talks about connecting the camera to a PC and that's not going to happen in the short term either. Both of these scenarios are simply possibilities for utilisation of the sensor."

So there you have it. Roll on The Future.

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Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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