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Next-Gen Kinect Will Read Lips, Says Sources

The next version of Kinect will reportedly be so accurate, that it will be able to read lips. At least, that's what "sources" have told Eurogamer.

According to the report, Microsoft's Kinect 2 will offer improved motion sensing and voice recognition over the current model including the ability to determine which direction they are facing. It will track the pitch and volume of player voices, and even track facial characteristics to measure different emotional states, including anger. Data will likely be sent via a charge-coupled device to avoid the bottleneck caused by using a USB controller interface and multiple USB-based devices.

"It can be cabled straight through on any number of technologies that just take phenomenally high res data straight to the main processor and straight to the main RAM and ask, what do you want to do with it?" an unnamed source told Eurogamer.

The news follows previous reports that Microsoft may launch two models of its next-generation Xbox console in 2013: a cheap "set-top box" version acting as a Kinect-themed gaming portal, and a fully-featured machine packed with an optical drive, a hard drive and backwards compatibility for a higher price point. Kinect 2 will reportedly come bundled with all future Xbox consoles.

Last week also brought reports that Microsoft is currently working on a new version of Kinect for Windows PC. Yet there's a slight possibility that it's the same Kinect 2 device reported by Eurogamer, as the motion-sensing device described in Microsoft's blog will feature firmware allowing the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision.

"We have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios," said Kinect for Windows general manager Craig Eiser. "Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for."

Looking back, the team stated that "there will be new Kinect hardware especially for Windows," and that it will build on "the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device." Given that the next Xbox console will be based on Windows 8, and that the next Kinect device will likely launch around the time Windows 8 arrives on the market, there's a good chance this device and Kinect 2 are one and the same.

Microsoft is expected to reveal the next Xbox console during 2012.