Thursday, November 4, 2010

The First Racist Computer?

Okay, not really but who could resist a headline like that? The Microsoft Kinect is in fact not even really a computer but a peripheral motion-sensing component meant to be used in conjunction with the X-Box. The Kinect uses a combination of facial recognition, gesture capture and skeletal tracking, which according to the X-Box website, "brings games and entertainment to life in extraordinary new ways without using a controller."

The idea behind the Kinect is essentially to take the interactive aspects of the Wii one step further, eliminating the need for any kind of handheld device. Sounds pretty cool. However there have been a few problems being reported since the Kinect was released at 12:01 am this morning. Mainly that the Kinect's facial recognition feature apparently has trouble recognizing darker skinned gamers. Now obviously racism is based on malicious intention of some kind and noone is suggesting there is anything like that behind the Kinect.

And the Kinect seems to be getting good marks otherwise. Which is good news for Microsoft since they have reportedly spent $500 million on advertisements for the Kinect alone. The good people at Microsoft will doubtlessly introduce some kind of "ethnic facial recognition fix" for the Kinect and everything will be peachy.

However it does cause you to wonder just how the thing got developed, tested, approved and released without ever having had to recognize a person of darker skin tone? Perhaps in the future Microsoft would do well to practice a bit more diversity in the workplace when it comes to their game testing and development department.

The Kinect is available for $150 on its own or as part of an X-Box bundle.

No comments:

Post a Comment