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Microsoft Kinect on sale today and already having racial facial issues

Microsoft Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle

Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing peripheral went on sale at 12:01 a.m. today for $150 (or bundled). While gamers everywhere are hooking it up to their Xbox 360s, the Internet is abuzz about the launch. We’ve gathered a few of the best stories.

5 million in Kinect sales this quarter

Microsoft isn’t spending $500 million on Kinect ads for nothing. Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s president of Interactive Entertainment, told Bloomberg that the company expects to sell more than five million Kinects in this quarter (three-month period) alone. That’s about a million units for every $100 million in advertising. This is up from a previous estimate of 3 million units for the quarter. “…it’s going to be our biggest holiday ever,” said Mattrick.

Is Kinect a racist machine?

Though  racism requires some ill-intention, Gamespot UK has noted that many dark-skinned reviewers had facial recognition problems with Kinect, while their white reviewers had no problems at all.

“The system recognized one employee inconsistently,” writes Brendan Sinclair of Gamespot, “while it was never able to properly identify the other despite repeated calibration attempts. However, Kinect had no problems identifying a third dark-skinned GameSpot employee, recognizing his face after a single calibration. Lighter-skinned employees were also consistently picked up on the first try.”

The article notes that only facial recognition seems to be an issue; gesture and skeletal tracking seemed to work fine. Microsoft asks users experiencing this problem to email xaccess@microsoft.com.

Luring gamer moms

Bloomberg also details how badly Microsoft wants a piece of the casual gamer pie Nintendo has snatched up with the Wii. The company has pushed Kinect on daytime programs like Oprah and Ellen, and its batch of launch games resemble many of the genres Nintendo has pioneered on the Wii.

“They have a lot riding on it,” Pachter said. “If they can get every Wii household to upgrade to this, they can sell another 50 million consoles. They won’t succeed in that, of course, but that’s the goal.”

Do you have a Kinect, or plan to get one soon? Does it stand a chance against PlayStation Move or Wii? Some here at Digital Trends have came away less than impressed earlier this year.