Microsoft has been selling its Kinect motion controller camera for its Xbox 360 console for some time. Kinect has been used by game developers for mostly family friendly game titles so far, although it's beginning to be used by more hardcore games. Today Microsoft announced a new effort that will add interactive elements to TV shows and even interactive storybooks for kids.
Calling the efforts "playful learning", Microsoft said today it has secured deals with groups like Sesame Workshop and National Geographic to offer up interactive TV shows via the Xbox 360, including Kinect Sesame Street TV and Kinect Nat Geo TV. The TV shows will be reedited with new Kinect based content that will appeal to kids. The press release states, "Kids and families can jump into the action with this next generation of TV entertainment, helping Elmo and Cookie Monster with tasks on Sesame Street and exploring the natural world with Nat Geo WILD TV shows — using full-body and voice recognition." The TV shows should become available in the spring of 2012.
Microsoft is working with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum Team on another effort with the current placeholder name Project Columbia. The project aims to create a interactive childrens' storybook with the Kinect and the Xbox 360. The press release states, "This new portal allows children to play an active role in bringing stories to life — interacting with words and illustrations and immersing themselves in the story." Project Columbia is due out by late 2012.
In addition to these new Kinect TV shows and storybooks, new Kinect-based children's games are in the works. Microsoft announced that a new game, code named Rush, that will be released in the spring of 2012. This new game will let players journey into the worlds created by the Pixar animation studio, including Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles and more. Also, Microsoft is working with developer Double Fine on a new Kinect kids game, Happy Action Theater. This game, due out this holiday season, will feature " ... a series of vibrant, exciting activities designed to activate gross motor skills, inspire imagination and entertain players of all ages, from preschoolers to grandparents."