Rare engineer David Quinn thinks the next step for Microsoft’s Kinect is to get it to understand natural speech patterns.
Quinn has been working with the Kinect for longer than it was publicly available. In an interview with Gamasutra he predicted its voice recognition features will rise above and beyond its current capacity and gain the ability to work in a much more “say-what-you-see” kind of fashion.
He cited the Rare-developed Kinect Sports in order t emphasize 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 not the only person to predict the Kinect’s voice-recognition direction, his boss Scott Henson has said he thinks 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 has shown praise for BioWare’s voice control efforts in Mass Effect 3, which enables players to control their teammates by barking commands (great fun and surprisingly effective).
"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."