Kinect specs posted: 640×480 at 30FPS, two players maximum

UK e-tailer has posted the full public specs of the Kinect motion gaming accessory for the Xbox 360. There’s not a whole lot revealed, but it is stated very plainly that only two active players can be tracked at any given moment. So much for party games — not that you’d all be able to cram into its 57-degree field of view, anyway.

Another spec noted is that the cameras are at two resolutions (320×240 and 640×480 in high color) and send a datastream with a 30FPS refresh rate. That means that your movements will always be a couple frames behind (33ms at minimum), especially if you’re playing a game with a high refresh rate. And the rather low resolution means that more subtle movements like finger motions or slight changes in foot position are likely never to be implemented. Usually low pixel resolution allows for better temporal resolution (i.e. faster refresh) but they seem to have neither here, unless there’s some kind of frame-alternating scheme at work.

My, my… I confess myself disappointed. While the novelty of playing games without a controller is undeniable, the technical limitations mean that Microsoft’s hopes that Kinect drawing the hardcore are likely to remain unrealized. The Forza demo I played already convinced me of this: while it was fun, it was essentially slightly laggy steering of a car that is driving itself. This from a highly skilled team responsible for a highly successful “hardcore” racing franchise.

Of course they may still surprise us, and I sincerely hope they do. But the tech seems to be against them.

Here’s the full spec list:

Colour and depth-sensing lenses
Voice microphone array
Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
Fully compatible with existing Xbox 360 consoles
Field of View
Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
Depth sensor range: 1.2m – 3.5m
Data Streams
320×240 16-bit depth @ 30 frames/sec
640×480 32-bit colour@ 30 frames/sec
16-bit audio @ 16 kHz
Skeletal Tracking System
Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
Tracks 20 joints per active player
Ability to map active players to Live Avatars
Audio System
Live party chat and in-game voice chat (requires Xbox Live Gold Membership)
Echo cancellation system enhances voice input
Speech recognition in multiple