Is it compatible? Will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360?

10 08 2010

When people know (or find out) that you write about technology and gaming, you usually get asked the same stock questions: PC or Mac? 360 or Ps3? Is Final Fantasy VII the best game ever? More recently however I’ve been the repeated recipient of a new question – will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360? The logical answer would seem to be ‘yes’ but Microsoft’s publicity machine haven’t been doing them any favours here. The television adverts for the new XBOX 360 proudly state “Ready for Kinect” (as the updated console spins like a sports car on a turntable in front of us) and that’s fine, but the way the advert is presented looks forward (obviously) and tells us nothing of our old workhorses. Will they allow us full motion control, or will they (as is Microsoft’s want) force us all to purchase new hardware, to swell their coffers and the world’s landfill sites?

Given that until the big ‘reveal’ at E3 recently details on Kinect (formerly Project Natal) were a little sketchy and the TV ad for the ‘new’ 360 has been so mis-leading, it’s been difficult to track down concrete information on the new peripheral, and while Microsoft have anecdotally stated that Kinect will work with the older consoles nobody at Microsoft has taken the time and consideration to actually spell out the difference. It would appear that the only difference is that the new 360 has a specific Kinect port (thanks to engadget for their handy close-ups of the new XBOX 360’s Kinect port) which allows the video/motion capture unit to pass data and draw power from the console (similar to USB bus-powered devices for PC) whereas those who want to use Kinect with their older consoles will need to run an additional power supply for the peripheral. So there’s your answer, you can all stop asking me!

Picture of the new XBOX 360 Kinect port (thanks engadget)

The new XBOX 360's Kinect port is the one with the orange line (thanks engadget)

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