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Kinect's sitting down woe finally over

MS switches base node to back of neck.

Concern over Kinect's ability to detect players sat down on sofas has been eradicated after Microsoft updated the software behind the tech, Eurogamer can reveal.

Kinect's much-discussed difficulty detecting sitting and lying down players was caused by it setting the base node used to create skeletal models at the bottom of the spine.

When players were sat down with their knees raised in front of their pelvis, Kinect encountered problems.

In July Microsoft insisted that Kinect could recognise players who were sitting down, despite a recent developer comment to the contrary.

This evening Eurogamer can reveal how Microsoft has made this possible.

The console manufacturer updated the software used by developers to make sense of the information gathered by the Kinect sensor so that the base node was switched from the bottom of the spine to the back of the neck, according to a developer with more experience working with the technology than most.

"It means that should the bottom of your torso get confused with the sofa, because your bum and your legs are enveloped inside the sofa, it doesn't matter because your hands and arms are still working," Blitz Games Studios co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Andrew Oliver told Eurogamer. "You can do most actions."

"A few months ago they changed stuff around. A lot of developers were like, 'Oh my God! Everything's broken,' because all the nodes were moved.

"But then it was like, 'Oh, actually, this is more logical.'"

While the changes made to Kinect's software libraries have come too late to be used in the motion-sensing add-on's launch line-up, "games going forward won't have a problem," Oliver reassured.

Before the update, developers who wanted to create a game in which players sit or lie down would have had to create the software to do it internally. Blitz was one such developer.

"It was one of those ones where it was probably borderline whether Microsoft would have fixed it for you or not," Oliver revealed.

"We were talking to them last February saying, 'Are you ever going to fix the libraries so it will work on the floor?' And they went, 'Oh come on, that's lying on the floor. That's so rare. We've got other issues we're dealing with.' We said, 'Okay, we'll go write it ourselves.'"

Blitz has two Kinect-enabled games ready to launch: fitness title The Biggest Loser and karaoke movie game Yoostar 2.

Blitz created its own solution for Kinect to detect players lying on the floor because The Biggest Loser asks players to perform sit-ups and push-ups.

Blitz has "several" Kinect-enabled games in development.