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Kinect May Do 640x480 in Update

Eurogamer reports that Microsoft is currently working on Kinect firmware that could quadruple its accuracy, giving the motion sensing device more Minority Report-like powers of detecting actual finger movement and hand rotation.

According to the report, Kinect's hardware is capable of more advanced tracking, however the device is currently locked at 30 frames per second and a 320x240 resolution limit because of the USB controller interface and the number of devices that can be connected to the console at the same time. Kinect is actually capable to data transfers at 35 MB/s, however right now Microsoft has locked the speed down to a mere 15 to 16 MB/s.

Currently Microsoft's Kinect team is reportedly working "very hard" on a switching or compression technology that will allow a larger load to pass from the device to the console. Although Microsoft did not provide comments about the report, Digital Foundry's Rich Leadbetter told Eurogamer that the accuracy improvement was "eminently doable," however Microsoft would need to disable or lower throughput of game installs running from USB flash drives to free up additional bandwidth.

"All eminently doable though bearing in mind that Kinect 'only' needs 20 MB/s for full res from both cameras," Leadbetter said. "The resolution coming out of the depth camera via PC is indeed 640x480, but it is uncertain just how accurate the camera's sensor is. Additionally, processing four times as many depth pixels could slow things down more."

Sony supposedly turned down the 3D camera used in Kinect before choosing the technology behind its current motion sensing device for the PlayStation 3, Move. According to Anton Mikhailov, a software engineer at Sony Computer Entertainment America’s research and development department, it was very hard to get anything useful out of the 3D camera.

"In reality, the 3D cameras we surveyed and what Kinect ended up using, they're 320x240 resolution, so when you're talking about tracking fingers, or even tracking things like the rotations of your hand, you're working with 10x10 pixels," he said.

As of December 11, Microsoft has reportedly sold more than 4 million Kinect units since its launch, 60-percent of which have been stand-alone units while to other 40-percent were bundled with the Xbox 360 console. Microsoft expects to sell over 6 million units by the end of 2010.