Kinect still has a lag issue; Jimmy Fallon confirms

Back in June of 2009, Jimmy Fallon tested out Project Natal on his Late Night television show. While the demo was definitely promising and fun to watch, it became evident that Natal needed some work before it was ready for prime time. There was a noticeable lag present. Microsoft assured the public that this would be minimized as the device neared release.

Fast forward a year to the present and feast your eyes on the video below. As pointed out by Kotaku, Jimmy Fallon has been blessed with a second, pre-release "run" with Natal, now referred to as Kinect. This time, however, he got to test drive the final product. Last night on his show, Fallon played Kinect Sports. Kinect Adventures was also shown off, though Fallon wasn't the one playing. In Kinect Adventures, the lag is clearly noticeable when players jump in the raft. With Sports, Fallon is forced to time his running jumps ahead of when he should actually need to.

For those gamers excited about Kinect, lag is going to be an unfortunate byproduct of the motion sensing technology. Perhaps some software based improvements will be made before the actual release, but no official plans have been detailed. Kinect will be available on November 4th for $149.99 and is compatible with first generation Xbox 360s, as well as the latest revision of the popular gaming console. Kinect/Xbox bundles will also be made available at a later date.

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I don't know what technical aspects that this camera thingie have -- but if they are trying to process data on an external device - external device is xbox360 here, not natal hw - it will lag as hell.

they have to minimize the data sent between natal and xbox FOR gaming. just like usual joysticks, nothing more. in order to do that, they have to use realtime hw processing on your captures.

But it seems that they have built a software interface for natal. the device almost always sents too much information to xbox and game developer chooses what to use or not.

hope they would have fix it before that date, otherwise it'll be a waste of time.

The other thing that I wanted to comment on is the whole thing of blaming the supoused lag to the lack of processing power on the 360. Let me tell you, none of the Casual Kinetic games shown uses the full potential of the 360 and they got some really good people working on them (rare) that know the hardware very well. Yeah it MIGHT have to do with the lack of a processor in the camera, not because the 360 can't handle camera sensory data, but might be something to do with the way the data is sent to the 360.

Well I'm not an expert on this kind of thing, but it just doesn't make sense that the detection is lagging because the 360 is not powerful enough and we have to wait for the 720 to see it working well.

I think all this Lag debate is exagerated. The best way to judge this is first, reviews from the people that actually tested it, and secondly and more important, to try it yourself.

Don't worry I can bet that there will be plety of Natal demos on Gamestop and Wallmart in the coming months. Try it and see for yourself if there's real lag in there.

Also remember that both Sony and Microsoft are trying to market this as "better than the Wii", and the people will tell if this is real or not. Although Casual gamers don't ask for much usually, they can be sensitive to unresponsiveness and really bad lag issues, because the controller is your body, and they will trust their body. If they jump and the thing doesn't jump on time they will notice and the game will lose it's novelty value very fast.

So, what would they release a poorly done solution to compete with the Wii? If their attempts fail the Wii will only get more sales and they would had lost millions in research, production and marketing. Hope they are not that dumb.

I'm hoping they can fix the lag (however minute, it didn't really seem like much to me), but regardless, Kinect is going to be a really cool product.

I like how everyone is saying "Oh if they don't fix it it will have problems". Mind you this is a video, you weren't there. You didn't get the actual experience oh Kinect and how exactly it functions while you are playing vs. watching a video.

It's like watching a video of a car. Your not going to know how it feels to be in that car from a video.

bluefisch200 said,
They (not MS, one of the Studios developing for Kinect) say they can bring it down to 150 ms before launch...

i hope it, otherwise it will be a real bust.

The original plan was to include a processor in the Kinect to do the work instead of the 360, but cost issues made MS decide to omit it. In all honesty, id rather deal with a tiny bit of lag rather than pay an extra 50-100 dollars for kinect.
I recall reading that they are still working on reducing the lag through software, so its possible there will be a kinect firmware update in the future.
If software can't solve it, it'd be cool if they come up with a kinect processing unit that sits between the kinect and 360 in the future, instead of a whole new kinect.

Omega192 said,
The original plan was to include a processor in the Kinect to do the work instead of the 360, but cost issues made MS decide to omit it. In all honesty, id rather deal with a tiny bit of lag rather than pay an extra 50-100 dollars for kinect.
I recall reading that they are still working on reducing the lag through software, so its possible there will be a kinect firmware update in the future.
If software can't solve it, it'd be cool if they come up with a kinect processing unit that sits between the kinect and 360 in the future, instead of a whole new kinect.

Hey you never know if there's an Kinect Pro on the road map that would incorporate the internal processor if the lag becomes a real problem in the future.

primortal said,

Hey you never know if there's an Kinect Pro on the road map that would incorporate the internal processor if the lag becomes a real problem in the future.
Kinect 2 for Xbox 720

Omega192 said,
The original plan was to include a processor in the Kinect to do the work instead of the 360, but cost issues made MS decide to omit it. In all honesty, id rather deal with a tiny bit of lag rather than pay an extra 50-100 dollars for kinect.
I recall reading that they are still working on reducing the lag through software, so its possible there will be a kinect firmware update in the future.
If software can't solve it, it'd be cool if they come up with a kinect processing unit that sits between the kinect and 360 in the future, instead of a whole new kinect.

The current kinect include a cpu but not a powerful one.

But i dunno if the real problem is in the processing time or in the usb port. Even a fast usb 2.0 port can be pretty slow for some task, for example video capture.

I wonder what this will do to online gameplay. Lag with Kinect, followed by the response time of the server, people with an average 100 ms will have about 150ms.

-DanNY- said,
I wonder what this will do to online gameplay. Lag with Kinect, followed by the response time of the server, people with an average 100 ms will have about 150ms.

I don't see this technology being used with the type of games where pings in the low 100 ms range are important to gameplay, so I doubt thats going to be an issue.

I like how everyone assumes the lag is with Natal instead of the video feeds being slighly out of sync ... (video capture devices typically add some delay to the video)

It didn't look like anyone playing had any trouble jumping at the right moment at any rate...

mprobins said,
I like how everyone assumes the lag is with Natal instead of the video feeds being slighly out of sync ... (video capture devices typically add some delay to the video)

It didn't look like anyone playing had any trouble jumping at the right moment at any rate...

The TV was right in front of them, in the same shot, for many of the shots. That's one single video feed, not possible to be out of sync there.

But yes, for these little mini games, slight lag like that won't matter. For serious games, it will though.

It seems to me that part of the problem is just native to the act of the motion itself. I mean, Natal needs to finish seeing you perform an action before it can send the message, or it risks the possibility of mis interpreting what you want. If you want to jump, you need to actually jump, not squat, bend, etc etc. It has to see the action before it can mimick it.

I know there's some actual processing lag, but it seems like thats more likely a compounded problem of people just being slow and hard to interpret.

Yes, I think your brain saying to your body, carry out this action, then the time to do the full action, and for Kinect to see it makes the delay pretty unavoidable. Partly a human problem and a hardware problem.

Actually Natal, was originally conceived as an add-on for PCs and then Microsoft bought the company that was developing it and re-purposed it as a Xbox360 exclusive feature.

It doesn't really look like lag, it just looks like the 'airtime' in the game is exaggerated. It's like if you jumped with a controller button. Tap 'A' and your avatar will stay in the air long after you released the button.

giantpotato said,
It doesn't really look like lag, it just looks like the 'airtime' in the game is exaggerated. It's like if you jumped with a controller button. Tap 'A' and your avatar will stay in the air long after you released the button.

It takes time for the character to jump after the real people jumped. That's lag. If you press "A" on the controller, the character will jump AT THAT MOMENT. That's the difference, and that's an important difference when it comes to serious gaming. For little "filler" games like these Kinect Sports and such, it doesn't really matter.

You couldn't really see the lag there so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I have insider info that Kinect Sports will be bundled with the device too.

Quapps said,
You couldn't really see the lag there so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I have insider info that Kinect Sports will be bundled with the device too.

Erm. You can see the lag. What are you smoking if you can't? That said ... for these types of games ... fine. For FPS games? No chance ... this wont work and will be slated for them if they have this kind of lag. I need to be precise when playing.

Natal was not designed to work with the xbox360. Instead, Natal was designed thinking in a more powerful cpu, may be for the future "xbox720" and not for the standard xbox360.

Magallanes said,
Natal was not designed to work with the xbox360. Instead, Natal was designed thinking in a more powerful cpu, may be for the future "xbox720" and not for the standard xbox360.

Huh?? And what is your source for this nonsense?

roadwarrior said,

Huh?? And what is your source for this nonsense?

Nonsense indeed. Natal was originally designed with an in-built processor that didn't matter what processor the actual console had. They cut that to save costs and now rely in the tri-core CPU of the 360.

roadwarrior said,

Huh?? And what is your source for this nonsense?

Balmer said it when he talked about Natal (then later he refuted it). Also some non-official comments from part of MS showed that Natal require a more powerful cpu.

Apparently, some high-up decided to rushed the launch for this year but the initial idea was to launch together a more powerful console because part of the operation needed by by Kinect is done by the main cpu.

there will be lag with this type of technology on a small scale. it is extremely complexed. but the lag really wont be that important i think, because the idea of the kinect is to involve the whole body which it still does. im interested in what game developers do with kinect, microsoft has really worked hard on it and as the technology matures and consoles become even more powerful this will get even better.

Perhaps this is why Nintendo went the IR/CCD triangulation route instead of cameras. I'm sure that with both Kinect and Move having to sample frames, analyze them for their targets, then output that as controller data the lag is unavoidable. The Wii has a CCD-like camera in front of the controller and it measures the distance between the 2 lights the sensor bar outputs.

This method is fine as long as the games are written with knowledge of the input lag.

GreyWolf said,
Perhaps this is why Nintendo went the IR/CCD triangulation route instead of cameras. I'm sure that with both Kinect and Move having to sample frames, analyze them for their targets, then output that as controller data the lag is unavoidable. The Wii has a CCD-like camera in front of the controller and it measures the distance between the 2 lights the sensor bar outputs.

This method is fine as long as the games are written with knowledge of the input lag.

My thoughts exactly. Wii with Motion+ seems much more accurate and responsive. I guess we'll see when Kinect actually hits the streets.

What'll be really cool is when someone figures out how to integrate a force feedback mechanism into this sort of thing.

Slugsie said,
What'll be really cool is when someone figures out how to integrate a force feedback mechanism into this sort of thing.

Sort of like a huge subwoofer in front of you that knocks you off you're feet if you mis-time a jump in your river rapids raft?

Although its not a very big lag, went it comes to precision gaming that little have a second can make a pretty big difference and **** a lot of gamers off.

Biglo said,
Although its not a very big lag, went it comes to precision gaming that little have a second can make a pretty big difference and **** a lot of gamers off.

Kinect games are not going to be about precision gaming though. Kinect won't be used for games like Call of Duty (for anything more than a gimmick at least). This technology is more for the family and party games genre, something the 360 has been lacking in so far.

To be fair to Kinect, my impression is that it is analysing in real-time, a whole lot more data than the Move device does. Minimal lag is a dream but an appreciation for what the device is actually doing is key to understanding the lag issues....

Antaris said,
To be fair to Kinect, my impression is that it is analysing in real-time, a whole lot more data than the Move device does. Minimal lag is a dream but an appreciation for what the device is actually doing is key to understanding the lag issues....

I feel the technology is the most impressive (out of the 3 motion controls system), however from a consumer perspective it just has to "work". A lot going to depend on the games, if the game compensates for lag or is not a big factor in that, it works out.

Antaris said,
To be fair to Kinect, my impression is that it is analysing in real-time, a whole lot more data than the Move device does. Minimal lag is a dream but an appreciation for what the device is actually doing is key to understanding the lag issues....

Lag kills gameplay. Having a higher appreciation for the technology and all that it is doing doesn't change the fact that if it is lagging, then the gameplay will suffer and it will not be much fun to play.

I have not sense of what the lag really is, and I'm not sure those videos demonstrate it well. I will have to see the thing for myself and play it before I judge it.

andrewbares said,

Playstation Move has severely less lag though.


Did you watch the same e3 I watched? The PS3 Move golf game lagged way more than any Kinect game I've seen.

Also, look at EA Sports Active 2. Both the Wii and Move lag more than Kinect in that video.

You can see the lag, but I have to wonder if it would be noticeable in person. I really want to try this before I pass judgement on it.

Simon said,
You can see the lag, but I have to wonder if it would be noticeable in person. I really want to try this before I pass judgement on it.

I'd say that if it can be seen, it's more than noticeable. From my experience, lag is noticeable by the gamer before it is easily seen by a bystander.

But yes, things like this must basically be experienced in person to pass a judgement.

Simon said,
You can see the lag, but I have to wonder if it would be noticeable in person. I really want to try this before I pass judgement on it.

+1

Astrotrax said,
Kinect looks cool, but you can notice some lag.

No s*** sherlock. That's kinda the whole point of the article

I always knew there would be lag in Kinect, the day Natal was leaked. It would be cool if they got Kinect to actually work well, but that's not going to happen for another 2 years. Maybe with more proccessing power... doesn't the Xbox take about a 30% performance hit when it's running Natal? That is quite a bit of proccessing power dedicated to detecting motion. Once they make a new Xbox (new specs, not just a slim), the power might be there for lagless Kinect.

andrewbares said,
I always knew there would be lag in Kinect, the day Natal was leaked. It would be cool if they got Kinect to actually work well, but that's not going to happen for another 2 years. Maybe with more proccessing power... doesn't the Xbox take about a 30% performance hit when it's running Natal? That is quite a bit of proccessing power dedicated to detecting motion. Once they make a new Xbox (new specs, not just a slim), the power might be there for lagless Kinect.

30%!? I don't think it's going to be quite that high... last I saw was 10% - 15%... if it is 30% that's quite high, and is dissapointing.

And as I said above, if they'd have kept the in-built processor in the Natal unit like they originally planned, the CPU use would be 0% and all the processing would be done by the Kinect sensor itself. But they took that out of the spec to save money.

It's a shame. Kinect has the potential to be revolutionary given that it is controllerless motion detection... no throwing Wiimotes through your TV etc.

HawkMan said,

Of one core. so in total that's a 3.33 - 5% performance hit. and even that's not true. since then where's still only talkign abotu the 3 processor cores, leaving out the GPU which does most, all, of the graphics work.

I dont think thats accurate. A 3.0GHZ 2 core CPU does not have an effective 6.0GHZ of processing power. It can split 3.0GHZ of processing power among its cores. The benefit is an isolated core can complete calculations for a single task instead of multiple requests for multiple tasks.

For party games where you need to time your movements (like sports and adventure) or even for turns in the driving games, this is going to be a major blow if not recitifed. It's like playing an FPS on a PC that can't handle it on full graphics, you have a half second or so of lag between you moving the mouse and the gun on screen following you. It's a tiny delay, but it ruins the game.

.Vamp said,
For party games where you need to time your movements (like sports and adventure) or even for turns in the driving games, this is going to be a major blow if not recitifed. It's like playing an FPS on a PC that can't handle it on full graphics, you have a half second or so of lag between you moving the mouse and the gun on screen following you. It's a tiny delay, but it ruins the game.

bad comparison. on a computer you just turn the graphics down and your problem is solved. can't do that on the xbox so you are stuck with the crappy performance.

.Vamp said,
For party games where you need to time your movements (like sports and adventure) or even for turns in the driving games, this is going to be a major blow if not recitifed.
If only they'd have kept the in-built processor in the Kinect sensor rather than removing it and relying on the 360's CPU instead to save money. I don't know about anybody else, but I'd have been willing to pay $20 or $30 more (or the UK pound equivalent) for a device that was a little more responsive. That Kinect Adverture looks pretty cool for parties.
SputnikGamer said,
bad comparison. on a computer you just turn the graphics down and your problem is solved. can't do that on the xbox so you are stuck with the crappy performance.
You're comparison isn't really valid either. Controller lag != Poor Graphics Performance.

j3f3m said,

I don't get this. It doesn't seem to lag any more than the PS3 Move:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7_SVbMKXwE
Watch the lag there at about 1:35
or both the Move and Wii on this game availble on all platforms:
http://xbox360.ign.com/dor/obj...ctive2_demo_gmp_061410.html
Watch the lag when the Move user doing squats. Her character moves almost a whole second after she does on the PS3.

Yeah, motion gaming will always have lags if you work with a camera...the Wii has another concept i think...but one of the developer studios for Kinect says that they can bring down the lag to 150ms...