Microsoft New Zealand will unveil the next phase in home entertainment with the launch today of new voice command on Kinect for Xbox 360.
The free download will specifically enable Xbox 360 consoles to recognise the New Zealand accent and be used in tandem with physical gestures to control their Xbox 360 Kinect.
Voice control within games enables “say as you see” voice commands while users play – including asking your Kinect Sports 2 caddy to “change club” in a round of golf or throw a “grenade” in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Commenting on voice command on Kinect for Xbox 360 today, Xbox New Zealand lead Steven Blackburn said: “There is no question that voice control brings a new dimension to entertainment. We want to create more enjoyable experiences around people interacting with their entertainment by making the technology invisible. Imagine a world where it won’t matter if you lose the remote control or run out of batteries because you won’t need them!”
New Zealand is among 13 countries to get accent specific voice controls.
The new accent-sensitive voice update will allow people to action commands in their entertainment including pause, play, fast-forward and stop, as well as navigate through menu items and across Xbox LIVE entertainment services, all with the sound of their voice on Xbox LIVE.
“People have been communicating with voice and gestures for thousands of years and now we are connecting people to their digital entertainment in much the same way,” Blackburn said.
In preparation for the launch, Microsoft gathered hours of New Zealand voice data which was then forwarded to Microsoft Corp. in the United States where it was integrated into the new software.
“A lot of work has gone in to teaching Kinect to recognise how we speak and now Kinect technology has been optimised so it can recognise all of us. If you’ve never tried playing with Kinect then there’s never been a better time than now,” Blackburn says.
“There is no question that voice control brings a new dimension to entertainment. We’re delivering concepts where the technology becomes almost invisible, no more controllers just voice and gesture. This technology will transform living rooms across New Zealand and we’re excited that it’s starting from tomorrow.”
The Xbox LIVE dashboard, where users can access online content, has also been redesigned in what Microsoft says is the biggest update since the Xbox 360 was launched seven years ago.
The update, scheduled for release late this evening (NZST), will bring a newly designed user interface and new personal and social features including Cloud Storage for Game Saves and LIVE Profile, Beacons and Facebook Sharing and enhanced Family Settings.
“Console owners around the world will feel like they have a new Xbox. The new dashboard is built from the ground up to take full advantage of voice control,” says Steven Blackburn.
Popular video-sharing site YouTube will also be available on Xbox LIVE in New Zealand later this month.