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Natural speech the next big challenge for Kinect - Rare dev

Praises Mass Effect 3 for "showing Kinect could be used with a controller".

Natural speech recognition is the next big challenge for Kinect, a Rare developer has said.

Rare engineer David Quinn, who has worked on Kinect since before its November 2010 launch, told Gamasutra that the motion sensing tech will evolve from its current "say-what-you-see approach" to detecting a "more natural conversation".

Quinn used the example of the Rare-developed series Kinect Sports to highlight his point.

"We pushed speech pretty hard in Sports 2," he said. "There was speech in the first round of launch titles - Kinectimals obviously had speech. But from day one the entire UI was going to be speech-driven. Every game event had to have speech incorporated into it.

"But it was also a very say-what-you-see approach; in golf, you change clubs - 'four iron,' - kind of thing. What I'd like to see and what we're investigating now is a more natural conversation way of talking to the Kinect, so you can say, 'Hey, caddy, give me a five iron,' or 'Hey, caddy, what should I use now?'"

Quinn's comments echo those of Rare boss Scott Henson, who in 2011 told Eurogamer that software "will be the key that unlocks" natural speech recognition. "We already have the microphone there," he said. "Now we just need to continue to adapt and grow and build our software to make that better."

Quinn praised the work done by BioWare in incorporating Kinect into Mass Effect . With Kinect you're able to use voice commands to order your teammates about and trigger powers and actions.

"What Mass Effect had recently done with Kinect's speech system is an excellent use of speech," Quinn said.

"What the Mass Effect guys have done is bring it into a core title, showing it could be used with a controller. It doesn't have to be the 'get up and dance' kind of experience.

"You can use speech in Kinect in a more core title, and it really demonstrated that. I think from here on in you'll see a lot of speech in core games."