Xbox One voice commands still work in games using freed-up Kinect power

When Microsoft announced it would give Xbox One developers more GPU power in an upcoming software kit update by freeing up resources dedicated to the console's Kinect sensor, there was some confusion as to the extent of Kinect features that would be lost for games that choose the option. In two recent interviews, Microsoft has clarified that system voice controls will still work in games that opt to use the Kinect reserves.

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox unit, confirmed to Kotaku that all gestures – including system gestures – will be unavailable when developers choose to make their games using the additional horsepower previously reserved for Kinect. System voice commands (such as "Xbox, record that") will still work, however. Additionally, when a gamer suspends the game by going back to the Xbox One home screen, gestures will be available for use in the console interface.

Spencer's comments were expounded upon by Microsoft Studios executive Phil Harrison who told Eurogamer that developers are already using the additional resources to improve frame rates and resolutions of Xbox One games.

"Many developers will use that performance benefit to enhance and improve the graphical look or resolution or frame rate of a game," he said. "We've already seen news that Bungie will increase the graphics performance of 'Destiny.' And as other developers get their hands on the libraries in the next days and weeks, that will become tangible and impactful in games that ship this holiday."

Regardless of whether Xbox One owners have a version of the console with Kinect or the new console version without the sensor, games that make use of Kinect reserves will work the same. Simply unplugging the sensor won't provide any performance improvements, as developers have to program their games for the new option and the games themselves will simply tell the console not to use the sensor.

Source: Kotaku, Eurogamer | Image via Microsoft

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14 Comments

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I use voice commands all the time but never gestures so i'm happy with that.

This is exactly what myself and a few other members on here predicted would be the case. Some one give me a cookie! :p

Just in time for Destiny, Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, and everything beyond. I personally LOVE talking to Kinect, gestures; however, I never use, so I welcome this.

I've never used a single gesture, however I talk to the Xbox a lot, because it's quicker than navigating the UI with control.

Wasn't the magical % freed up like 10%? If so, that must be enough seeing the statements above in the article talking about things like frame rate improvements, etc.

Yeah, 10%. Seems like it makes quite a difference, I read somewhere that it allows for Destiny to run in native 1080p instead of using a lower res.

They should have put a dedicated processor inside the Kinect for all that so it didn't pull resources from the console.

Enron said,
They should have put a dedicated processor inside the Kinect for all that so it didn't pull resources from the console.

I always thought it shouldn't sap away system power too.

The trouble is that the damage has already been done. The decision to include Kinect meant that Microsoft scaled backward the specs of the XB1 and unbundling it won't change anything. Even with the extra GPU power that was assigned for the Kinect the XB1 is still behind the PS4. Microsoft should have made the Kinect optional from the beginning, then it could have put more into the specs of the XB1.

Sony made a huge gamble with their memory and thankfully it paid off, MS obviously didn't know the specs of the PS4 before it launched.

McKay said,
Sony made a huge gamble with their memory and thankfully it paid off, MS obviously didn't know the specs of the PS4 before it launched.

True, but it's not just the memory as Sony opted for a better GPU and CPU. That's despite the fact that Microsoft increased clock speeds prior to release in response to Sony.

makes sense

constantly scanning for gestures probably used most of the kinects resources. voice activation doesn't use that much

Brando212 said,
makes sense

constantly scanning for gestures probably used most of the kinects resources. voice activation doesn't use that much

It's probably a mix of different factors, the API/Drivers not being "done" and them saving more resources into the reserve than they really needed as a safe guard. Now that they've had time to work with the code more they're chopped it down to where they don't need to hold on to that much "just incase".