Every new Xbox One will come with a new Kinect, Microsoft has just announced. The peripheral has received an incredible overhaul: the Xbox One uses it to turn on your entire entertainment system and switch between games, movies, web browsing and live television at a moment's notice. Just say "Xbox On" to turn on the console, even when it's off, and the Kinect will recognize you, automatically sign you in, and give you hands-free control over your entertainment experience. Say "Go to TV" or "Go to Internet Explorer" and you're there, or spread your hands in particular gestures while the Kinect depth camera is watching and you can grab items on the screen, or snap them side by side. It's also obviously the camera you'll be using for new group video calls with Skype.
The new Kinect has a wide-angle 1080p HD depth camera that captures RGB color video at 30 frames per second, and Microsoft says it's more sensitive and powerful than ever before: it uses time-of-flight technology to send out light and measure the amount of time it takes to return, and it can work even in a completely dark room. Microsoft says it can detect slight rotations in your wrist or shoulder, and Microsoft claims it can even read your heartbeat while you're exercising. "This is rocket science level stuff," says Xbox's Marc Whitten.
The Kinect can even recognize the new Xbox controller, so that you can add additional interaction even in traditional games by simply moving the controller while you're playing. The microphone array will now process audio that's personalized to each individual, the better to recognize you, and we're already seeing voice commands integrated in the new Xbox programming guide to control the console's live TV experience.
Oddly, Microsoft hasn't given us a new name for the new Kinect yet. We'll let you know if that changes.