Six years after its launch, Microsoft's Xbox 360 has evidently become too long in the tooth. A recently leaked official document has pointed towards a $299 successor dubbed “Xbox 720”, along with the next iteration of Kinect. There has been a regular influx of rumours on the next-gen console, but Kinect 2 has largely stayed under the radar. As it turns out, that's no longer the case now. If Twitter-user superDaE is to be believed, we now have evidence of Kinect 2's existence. The tweet shows a screenshot from what seems to be a debug software running Kinect 2 on a development kit meant for the Durango, the codename for the next-generation console.
An adult and a child can be seen in the image, along with spatial information captured by the motion sensor. By the look of it, the new sensor seems to resolve more mapping points than the original. The spatial information captured in varying hues and gradients therein also exhibit increased complexity — all pointing towards improved optics and processing hardware.
The debug console screenshot shows better imaging resolution and increased spatial mapping complexity
The veracity of the image hasn't been confirmed yet, but the leaked document did mention that an improved Kinect sensor sporting better depth and movement perception is in development. Moreover, alpha versions of the Xbox software development kits (SDK) dubbed as XDK have been provided to developers working on titles for the next-generation platform. The screenshot seems to be using the same Visual Studio interface used in the XDK.
The reworked motion controller is rumoured to allow up to four simultaneous players and overcome the bandwidth limitations of the original Kinect. If speculations about dedicated hardware processing are true, it could mean a significant reduction in lag, something that's crucial for non-casual games. The truth remains that the original Kinect didn't turn out to be as ground-breaking for the platform, due to the lack of support for AAA games.
Better hardware capability is one thing, but the real challenge for Kinect 2's success is getting developers to incorporate support for mainstream games. Having said that, hardcore gamers haven't historically been kind towards motion controllers, which is why the medium has been languishing in the casual gaming spectrum.