The announcements at the Xbox press conference yesterday about being able to use voice commands to search for things – “Xbox Bing this” and “Xbox Bing that” – and issues commands in game is all well and good, but many Kiwi Xbox Kinect owners would just be happy being able to turn their Xbox 360 on using voice commands at all – functionality the US, Britain, Japan and Canada all enjoy. For us down under, the function has been switched off since launch – and it seems our accents are to blame.
So with all this focus now on voice support for the Kinect at yesterday’s presser, I decided to ask Xbox NZ’s PR firm about it this morning, specifically when can New Zealand Kinect owners expect voice recognition to be activated for us. I’ve heard from many people who said they bought a Kinect just so they could use voice commands.
Xbox PR tells me that there are “no confirmed dates yet, but voice will be here this year. The postponed rollout is due the complexity of configuring the technology for our accents and ‘voice variation’.” Reports indicate that Australia will get the functionality by the end of the year, so we should follow suit.
So there you have it: Kinect can understand the variety of British and American accents we hear so often on the multitude of British and American TV shows we get here, but it just can’t handle the Kiwi dialect – but that seems to confuse many Americans anyway.
During my “Red Dead Redemption” review with Glenn Williams last year, a lot of Americans commented on the YouTube link that I’d said “Rid Did Ridimption”, which is just ridiculous. Perhaps Kinect is having the same trouble.