Microsoft Xbox One

Motion control is nothing new when it comes to video games. After the Nintendo Wii made its big splash, Sony released its Move controllers and Microsoft unveiled the most ambitious system of all, in the shape of Kinect. What made Kinect different from the competition was that it needed no controller at all, tracking every aspect of your body’s movement, rather than just the hand holding the controller.

Now there’s a new version of Kinect ready to hit the street along with the next generation Xbox One console. Kinect is an integral part of the Xbox One experience, and it’s a far more advanced bit of kit than its predecessor.

One of the shortcomings of the original Kinect was that you needed a pretty large living room for it to work properly. But the Xbox One Kinect can track all your movements from only a few feet away, meaning that even if you’re using it in a small room, you won’t have a problem.

Xbox One Kinect

Xbox One Kinect sees everything in 3D

The new Kinect is equipped with a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 camera so it can pick up the tiniest movements from almost any part of your body. It can track movements in specific joints, so it knows when you’re moving your spine, bending your elbow or even flexing your fingers and thumb.

As well as that high definition video camera, the new Kinect also has an infrared camera, so it can accurately pick up movement regardless of lighting conditions. In fact, Kinect can see what’s happening in almost total darkness.

The new Kinect sensor can also detect muscle movement, allowing it to analyse how you’re exerting force with each particular part of your body. And talking of force, it can also tell how much pressure you’re exerting, whether that be your feet stamping on the floor, or your arm thrown forward into a punch.

It’s clear that the new Kinect can track all sorts of movement, flexing and pressure, but that’s not the most impressive aspect about the new system when it comes to fitness. What makes Xbox One Kinect a properly viable fitness gadget is that it can dynamically track your heart rate.

Xbox One Kinect

Xbox One Kinect can track your heart rate in real time

Without the need of any kind of wearable sensor, such as a traditional wireless chest strap, the new Kinect can accurately measure your heart rate in real time. It does this using a combination of the HD video camera and the IR camera, both of which measure changes in your skin colour and tone, which is analysed to produce a rolling heart rate.

If this works, it’s a pretty impressive achievement, and Microsoft assured me that the heart rate measured by Kinect is “very close” to what you’d get from a chest strap heart rate sensor system. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the accuracy of the new Kinect heart rate measurement during the short time I spent with it, but rest assured that I’ll be doing just that when I get my paws on an Xbox One review sample. With the new levels of tracking and accuracy provided by Xbox One Kinect, there’s an opportunity for it to become a real health and fitness tool for the home. While Nintendo scratched the surface with its Wii Fit balance board system, the new Kinect could take things to the next level.

Of course much will depend on the software that’s developed to make use of the health and fitness potential of the new Kinect, but given that every Xbox One will be bundled with the new sensor, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see a lot of support from Microsoft and third party developers.

Check back soon for a full review on Xbox One Kinect.