Why You Don’t Get Kinect Voice Controls At Launch

The Kinect is an awesome bundle of technology, but the Australian unit suffers a fairly major setback – voice control hasn’t been activated. Yet. We just spoke to Adam Pollington, Xbox Category Manager from Microsoft, about the reasons why voice control is absent from the Aussie version.

According to Adam, it’s an issue with accents. As you’d expect, there are variations in accents not only between countries, but also within states. And while Microsoft could have enabled the service for Australia using the US or UK information, they decided against it, instead opting to wait for a much more precise, localised version for Australians.

At the moment, Microsoft are currently collecting hours and hours of data from Kinect beta testers from around the country. While they couldn’t offer a precise number of beta testers, they did say the number was in the hundreds, including Microsoft staff and other specially selected partners. Each week these beta testers are required to undertake special voice tasks that collects accent information and sends it back to Microsoft for analysis.

It is curious as to why this process is still ongoing for Australians when the same process must have occurred through the US and UK. While Microsoft wouldn’t confirm it, the only possibility is that both countries had thousands of beta testers as opposed to our “hundreds”, allowing them to collect the data needed much quicker than here. Otherwise, the whole excuse is a bit of a cop out…

On the upside, voice controls are expected to launch “early next year”, which Pollington guessed meant late Feb/ early March. He also hinted at an announcement in the near future regarding Kinect controls for other Xbox services like Foxtel on Xbox. Whether that’s enough to persuade you to buy a Kinect now rather than wait for the voice control update next year is another matter altogether though…

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