Microsoft Kinect is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the gaming ecosystem and is a topic I find myself bringing up more with retail clients. With the adoption of Kinect on the Xbox platform and with all the Kinect games out now, people are beginning to better understand gesture-based interactions. Plus, with many new Kinect applications moving beyond games and toward pure experiences, the next logical question to address is what comes next and how might we use this device in the consumer space? Now clients are coming and asking what differentiator options Kinect offers and how to incorporate it in their retail space. We have all seen the research and hacking projects that people have already started developing for Kinect, such as controlling helicopters and making shadow puppets. Though the reality is, how can these ideas translate into an in-store experience? Before I get into that, let’s outline some of the considerations that need to be given to a general Kinect interaction.
Give Me Some Space, Please
The first thing to understand about Kinect is that it needs more space than a standard touch Kiosk. Ideally, it should have a dedicated area for the interaction that allows for someone, or maybe a few people, watching or interacting, being able to stand around and use wide motion gestures. Depending on the overall experience you are trying to achieve, you may want to think how it can work in your retail environment, especially if space is an issue.
There are delicate considerations retailers need to make before choosing Kinect as an option. First, there needs to be a dedicated area (about 8-12 feet) for the user – this is to make sure that no passive shoppers interfere with the Kinect detection camera. Second, retailers need to make a clear designated area so consumers know if they are in the designated Kinect area or not.
Best Buy and the Microsoft Store do an excellent job of defining a space for the interaction; to make it clear to passive shoppers not to enter the “Kinect experience” with the use of colored carpet and a small wall at the back of the zone. The Microsoft Store places the experience at the back and at the front of the store in dedicated areas, out of the way. The individual using the Kinect can also see where they are meant to stand, enabling them to move and not worry about bumping into shoppers. This keeps everyone aware of the Kinect interaction whether they are in it or not.
Consideration also needs to be given to the height and position of the camera; it is optimal to have the camera directly in front and at about waist height to allow for tall and short users (think children) to use the Kinect properly. It can also be placed in other locations, though it can affect Kinect’s ability to detect a user’s full bodies for tracking.
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