Microsoft Kinect is not racist

Soon after Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor hit the streets there followed a rumour that it was having a problem with seeing dark skinned people.

According to GameSpot, some testers encountered difficulty in getting the Kinect to identify players with darker skin colour.  It made sense, after all it was named Project Natal which was a place which had a similar reputation for many years.

Its testing confirmed that some of the facial recognition features of Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera system might not work properly for the dark-skinned

This surprised the iPhone 4 debunking Consumer Reports Magazine which did not encounter this issue with the Kinect and facial recognition when it first tested it.

However, researchers at the site remembered that an HP laptop was accused of similar problems when it launched last year so the outfit decided to test again the Microsoft Kinect with two players of different skin tones, in varying light levels.

It found that the log-in problem is related to low-level lighting and not directly to players’ skin colour. It was exactly like the HP “racist” webcam problem, the Kinect camera needs more light and contrast to determine features in a person’s face before it can perform software recognition and log someone into the game console automatically.

“The Kinect recognised both players at light levels typically used in living rooms at night and failed to recognize both players when the lights were turned down lower. We did not experience any instance where one player was recognised and the other wasn’t under the same lighting conditions,” the magazine said.

This problem didn’t prevent anyone from playing Kinect games, since it can “see” and track players’ bodies and motions using a built-in infrared lighting system.

Gameplay wasn’t affected at all, even in totally dark rooms, however Consumerist suggested that Kinect users will want to turn on as many room lights as possible.