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November 15, 2010 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft Kinect (née Project Natal) is sure to be a monster hit this season, and no surprise: Microsoft hopes to disthrone Nintendo's Wii and are supporting the platform with a $500 million marketing budget, larger than the marketing budget for the launch of the original Xbox. However, privacy experts are raising concerns over recent comments made by Xbox CFO Dennis Durkin at at an investors' conference:
“We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” Durkin said. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”
One example given was that the Kinect could identify sports jersey worn by players and deliver ads specific to their team. The Kinect platform works with its array of video- and infrared cameras, 3D depth sensors, and stereo microphones, all attached to a motorized platform which can follow players' movements.

Microsoft quickly issued a statement denying that they will use an information captured by the Kinect for marketing purposes.
posted by 2bucksplus (116 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Creepy.
posted by newdaddy at 8:52 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Creepy aside, I'm presently fascinated with the community's efforts to open-source it.
posted by 7segment at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, wow, that's....so wait, you pay to put this little spy platform in your living room? Or are they giving them away?
posted by nevercalm at 8:54 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went to Best Buy yesterday to try Kinect. It's certainly impressive technology ... but it's not any fun. Everybody knows that video gaming is supposed to take place on the couch, with a bag of chips to your left and a beer to your right. Add the whole creepiness of having a network-connected camera in your living room, pointed at you, and the other end of it is connected to Microsoft ... no, thank you, no.
posted by jbickers at 8:55 AM on November 15, 2010 [15 favorites]


Crazy piece of kit. I heard it was originally Israeli military tech but now it can be yours for just £120. Already hacked and people are doing interesting things with it. This dude has videos showing you how Kinect can build up a 3D model of you and your room.
posted by jiroczech at 8:56 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You pay $150 for the privilege.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:56 AM on November 15, 2010


I can't see the Kinect taking off. They've seen the same problem the EyeToy had: really bland, standard demo games off the bat and not a lot of publishers doing anything interesting with it yet. I mean, peripherals as a whole don't really do impressively: See: R.O.B., Sega CD, 32x, the Super Scope, the almost-unused Nintendo 64 Expansion Pak (although it did get used well!), the EyeToy, and all of their brethren. You're just going to have a hard time forcing a physical peripheral on people.
posted by LSK at 8:56 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hate to give the tinfoil hat wearer more affirmation, but how long until "suspicious activity" is one of things Kinect is watching for?
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


When I worked at Dish Network we used to hear a story about a customer who called in to express concern that her satellite receiver had a camera and was able to see them there in her living room. The agent calmed her down and reassured her that the equipment didn't have a camera that worked that way. At the end of the call he commented, "By the way, nice red sweater." She happened to be wearing a red sweater and just went mental on him; he got in heaps of trouble.
Microsoft tech support for this product should be entertaining.
posted by closetphilosopher at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


I'm paying the extra $250,000 for the full-body scanner option. Because I'm worth it.
posted by facetious at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you wear a sports jersey it will target you with ads specific to that team. What if you're naked? Will you get ads for porn?
posted by dortmunder at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.

"Hey, engineer guy. Can you use the Kinect to identify who is in the room?"
"Yeah, that's exactly how it works."
"So, can you target an ad based on that?"
"Well, we kind of already do that. I mean, they're already logged into Xbox Live. This is just another way to do that."
"Great."
HEADLINE: WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE
"Aww, dammit."
"Larry, I told you not to talk to anyone, didn't I?"
"Yeah."
"What'd I say?"
"'No talk!'"
"Right."
"Sorry."
"It's OK. Here's a little monkey chow."
"Thanks."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is sure to end well.

As another question; has Microsoft's gaming division finally managed to turn a profit? Is it even legal for them to be pumping so much money into a division that loses money hand-over-fist? Is this just a nefarious way of getting always-on cameras on top of our TVs?

I'm a big advocate of Hanlon's razor, and hate 1984 analogies, but this one almost seems too easy.

(Also, Facebook's targeted ads have managed to, er..... figure a few things about me, despite the fact that none of them are listed on my profile. Meanwhile, Google's targeted ads seem to have figured out how to tell when I'm shopping for something. I looked up the price of a Photoshop upgrade license, and BAM, nothing but Adobe CS5 ads for two days. I'm not easily creeped out, but this is starting to get under my skin....)
posted by schmod at 9:00 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Guys, your worries are without merit.

You can pay an additional $250 and opt out of the camera tracking and Microsoft will instead send an agent to physically screen all your movements. This agent will touch your genitals.

It gets better though: Bill Gates will pay the fee for you if you send this message to six people.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:04 AM on November 15, 2010 [20 favorites]


There are an ever growing amount of openKinect hacks since the drivers got hacked last week. This one is my current fave, although it looks rough it's pretty neat. I'm thinking of getting one just so I can try out some of these.
posted by Catblack at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean, peripherals as a whole don't really do impressively

Unless they have a "killer app." See Also: Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution, and SingStar (Huge in Europe; never caught on in the US as a standalone product).

I'm not quite seeing the Killer App here just yet. Part of the Wii's success lied in the fact that every console included a copy of Wii Sports, which was a simple and addictive introduction to the system.

Failure to include a Skype client almost seems like too obvious of an opportunity to have missed.
posted by schmod at 9:05 AM on November 15, 2010


I reviewed Kinect here:

http://www.mobunited.com/mobunitedmedia/2010/11/05/kinect-jumping-and-waving-like-a-fool/

As for its success, you can get the Arcade + Kinect in one box for $300. That's not bad. Now that the 360 supports standard USB sticks it makes no sense for more casual gamers to bother with the HD-included model, as we're not going to generate so much stored data.

It's pretty damned interesting, but also requires too many steps back from the TV. One big issue is lack of finger identification and how that prevents you from doing a lot of interesting stuff, and makes the interface worse. I think we're looking at a zillion firmware updates to really exploit it -- and the danger that much of this stuff will be shunted into pay-to-unlock functions that should be core. But first, they need to let me get closer. I promise not to kick the TV and won't sue if I do, so relax!
posted by mobunited at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2010


Well I don't see how this will ever compete with Nintendo's Power Glove technology.
posted by Locobot at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know I'm supposed to be outraged and refuse to fly ever again, but honestly I just want to get my wife a version of Dance Dance Revolution that doesn't require a mechanical mat.

I'm also hoping that Dance Central comes with a Bollywood expansion so that I can live my dream of having the entire family break into choreographed song and dance in public.
posted by mecran01 at 9:08 AM on November 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Previously
posted by DU at 9:11 AM on November 15, 2010


I just found this one, and I'm betting there's going to be a hundred openKinect videos on youtube by next month. I just caught this one after posting that last comment, and I'm impressed.

And it's clear that this is just the first generation of this sort of device. This is a game changer in the same way the iPod was. It makes me wonder what patents it is covered by, because the 3rd and 4th generation of these will make computer mice obsolete.
posted by Catblack at 9:13 AM on November 15, 2010


Yeaahhh. Wow. Sounds like every management 'Oh, X will never happen' lines. I've started to subconsciously add 'until next week,' or 'until it's expedient' to those statements. VGCats covered my sentiments well, and with more humour than I can summon.

While I admit I was still vaguely tempted to pick one up, I think, perhaps, I may have just wanted to be on TV, and buy a piece of hardware I use twice and get bored with. Hooray marketing!
posted by LD Feral at 9:13 AM on November 15, 2010


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:13 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Kinect will be able to tell what type of lithium batteries you are using to cook your meth, so it can sell you a more popular brand.

Wait, what?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:15 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if you're naked? Will you get ads for porn?

No, you will get targeted male enhancement ads.

Even if you are a woman.
posted by pts at 9:16 AM on November 15, 2010


I played the bowling game at a recent tech conference and it was fun. It was scary how well the ball on the screen matched your movements. I can see all kinds of cool apps like a golf swing analyzer or 3-d sculpture app. I actually think by limiting themselves to x-box they are potentially missing a bigger market.
posted by humanfont at 9:18 AM on November 15, 2010


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?

I give this derail attempt a 2/10
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:19 AM on November 15, 2010 [21 favorites]


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?

Wouldn't it look identical to the current shitstorm, much the same way Apple and Microsoft look identical in many other ways?
posted by DU at 9:20 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Celsius1414: "I hate to give the tinfoil hat wearer more affirmation, but how long until "suspicious activity" is one of things Kinect is watching for?"

"Kinect-Clippy notices you're engaging in suspicious activity would you like:
1) help with learning how to build a bomb
2) a call to 911
3) an online list of retailers who provide cheap access to pseudoephedrine HCL or
4) me to shut myself off?"
posted by symbioid at 9:22 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Kinect is interesting, but it won't realize its full potential until they move away from Wii-knockoff shovelware.

Give me Lawnmower Man-style Hollywood "Virtual Reality" and I'll consider dropping the 150 bucks. At the moment, I'd rather not pay for the privilege of accidentally trashing my living room.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2010


I can't see the Kinect taking off.

Then something else will. This sort of thing will be common place in the future. Resist is futile.
posted by nomadicink at 9:28 AM on November 15, 2010


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?

This is just another example of Microsoft playing catch-up.

Apple already does this. There's been a camera in all Mac computers for quite a while. They send detailed photos of you to the US government to aid in their processing of you in one of the FEMA Camps.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:28 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


The idea that the Kinect is both voice and motion controlled makes me believe that the platform's killer app will be EA Sports Soccer Dad -- where you, the player, have to control a team of Chibi-style David Beckham's by waving and shouting commands at them, and they only loosely obey or listen to you. Bonus obedience\ignorance multiplier if you're also obviously wearing a pee-wee league team jersey and a big #1 Fan foam glove.
posted by bl1nk at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Posting this again because I think it's kind of neat - Creating 3D Holographic Videos with Microsoft Kinect .
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2010


Resist is futile.

SON

I AM ASSIMILATE
posted by cortex at 9:37 AM on November 15, 2010 [28 favorites]


The 3d video is very cool. Needs to be paired with "3d printing".That is a billion dollar idea and the very definition of drisruptive.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:39 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


3D printing itself hasn't arrived yet (at least at home, which is what would make it truly "disruptive") so the pairing of the two is a ways off. And in any case, a 3D camera gives you less information than you think. You only get the side turned torwards it, so you have to spin it around. And open it up. And somehow reverse engineer the parts that a camera can't see (like the electronics...and software). And indication what materials each part is made of.
posted by DU at 9:43 AM on November 15, 2010


I hate to give the tinfoil hat wearer more affirmation, but how long until "suspicious activity" is one of things Kinect is watching for?

How long until "poison" is one of the ingredients in McDonalds hamburgers? How long until "enhanced interrogation techniques" are used on dissenting voters?? How long until "disrupting business" is a good enough reason for a company to hire someone to KILL YOU???

There's nothing worth listening to in this sort of rhetorical fearmongering. If there's no evidence and no real pattern to point to, though, it's a pretty good way of making shit up. I'd say it's very likely they use Kinect data for controlling games, and maybe targeting ads if they take back what they've said so far about that. Any other conclusion has the burden of proof.
posted by roast beef at 9:46 AM on November 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh god, they've gotten to roast beef! They took'em down and replaced him with a fake!

Mmmm, I'm thinking Arby's.
posted by nomadicink at 9:48 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember how excited I was when I first came across Camspace; Controlling games with ALL THE THINGS!

This tech has potential to be fun, hopefully better than the basic, simple tech/low quality webcam combo of Camspace, it was basic and glitchy, yet still pretty cool for a while back, I can imagine that this will be even better, with ir Cameras, and multiple camera array to translate depth of motion. I can't wait till 3d environments can be digitized with a small array of cams (think a mini-google-street-view-built into a hat type setup) that will open some interesting avenues for game environment design. Image Based Rendering (as jiroczech, and Catblack linked) is the futurenow.

The killer app is a star wars game with laser swords, first person shooting, and telekinesis with cool hand-wavey motions. duh.:)
posted by infinite intimation at 9:52 AM on November 15, 2010


How long until "poison" is one of the ingredients in McDonalds hamburgers? How long until "enhanced interrogation techniques" are used on dissenting voters?? How long until "disrupting business" is a good enough reason for a company to hire someone to KILL YOU???

Heh, I thought you were giving this as a list of things that "duh, already HAPPEN!"
posted by DU at 9:52 AM on November 15, 2010


I'll tell you why this shit pisses me off. Because all future generations of kids will be able to do things like bowl at home, meaning bowling alleys will become almost extinct. Meaning those that remain will require a 2 hour commute and will cost 200 dollars a game. Meaning that neanderthals like myself who actually like to leave the house, see other human beings, and interact with the physical world, will be priced out of doing those things and will be forced to live like these pain in the ass kids.
posted by spicynuts at 9:53 AM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


so wait, you pay to put this little spy platform in your living room

Yep. We call it the internet.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think we'll see 3d printing take off. If you haven't seen this video yet, it's worth it. (And they have software, requiring just a webcam and a flashlight.)

I you were to combine 2 or more Kinects, you would be able to get true multi angle 3d capture, I imagine. I'm sure there will be much more to come. I'm just impressed with the tech, not microsoft. I don't think playing a game would be as much fun as coding some cool art with it.
posted by Catblack at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really digging what ya'll decided to wear today.
posted by nomadicink at 10:01 AM on November 15, 2010


I can't wait to use Kinect with my 3D TV, and a bowl of Crystal Gravy for a snack.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:05 AM on November 15, 2010


Isn't gizmodo going a little overboard calling those "holographic"? There was an article recently about someone raising opposition to the creation of 3d Printers, saying that they were tools of copyright infringement I think...yeah, this is the article (also; 3d printing has huge potential in the realm of Archaeology, being able to disseminate exact duplicates of precious and tragically fragile artifacts, without having to do the old style, and hugely destructive "molding process", an entirely optical measurement, digitization and duplication process... that is useful) It allows schools, and new learners to really see and manipulate things that they might have only ever seen in a few black and white photos in a textbook previously.

Is that a spy-platform in your living room, or are you just happy to non-locally see my telepresence...
posted by infinite intimation at 10:11 AM on November 15, 2010


Wouldn't it look identical to the current shitstorm, much the same way Apple and Microsoft look identical in many other ways?

Yes, but the Apple shitstorm is softlit and has a more rounded design to it. We call it iStorm.
posted by mightygodking at 10:20 AM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


There was an article recently about someone raising opposition to the creation of 3d Printers,

Huh. I think you read that article exactly the opposite way it was intended. From the summary:

"There will be a time when impacted legacy industries demand some sort of DMCA for 3D printing. If the 3D printing community waits until that day to organize, it will be too late. Instead, the community must work to educate policy makers and the public about the benefits of widespread access."

The article is raising opposition to the current spate of intellectual property laws being applied to a world where 3-d printing is ubiquitous.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:21 AM on November 15, 2010


The idea that the Kinect is both voice and motion controlled makes me believe that the platform's killer app will be EA Sports Soccer Dad -- where you, the player, have to control a team of Chibi-style David Beckham's by waving and shouting commands at them, and they only loosely obey or listen to you.

Oh God I would buy the thing just for this, and I would get raging drunk and pretend I was Will Ferrell: "GET ON THE BAG!"
posted by chaff at 10:22 AM on November 15, 2010


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?

People would be lining up to buy it.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:27 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hm.

I've spent the last twenty years trying to avoid advertising wherever possible.

Fast-forwarding through commercials on videotape, listening to community or public radio, making mix-tapes and them mix-CDs and then mix MP3s, skipping ads with Mythtv, ripping movies to disk before watching to avoid trailers, ads and FBI warnings, installing NoScript and AdBlocker in Firefox...

I suppose it's just an idiosyncrasy, but I have a real problem with things that I buy advertising to me

Feh


posted by mmrtnt at 10:31 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I picked one up, mainly because I thought the technology was interesting. The dashboard navigation and voice recognition is rather futuristic and impressive, but I'm not enjoying the pack-in game.

The thing I haven't seen anyone make note of is that the sensor is on a hinge, and when it boots up, it looks you up and down. I assume it's trying to figure out the shape of the room, but it freaks me right out.
posted by Sibrax at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if you're naked? Will you get ads for porn?
No, but Rule 34 is now in-effect.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2010


All of their prospective games look awesome. I mean, at E3, the demo of the Kinect was this bad-ass game where you pet cats. So, y'know.
posted by koeselitz at 10:34 AM on November 15, 2010


I bought a Kinect last week (Thursday), primarily because I plan to have a party with lots of friends on Thanksgiving and I thought they might enjoy it, and secondarily because of a pact my sweetie and I have of checking out new video game-related tech and tertiarily because I heard that Dance Central was a lot of fun.

I'm pretty security and privacy savvy and I'm not THAT concerned. It's a machine, right? So I can turn it off when I don't want it looking at me or listening to me, right? Or unplug it! These machines are very convenient - when I want privacy I turn them off.

But anyway, Dance Central is in fact the bomb. I also have Kinect Sports (pretty good) and the bundled Kinect Adventures (also pretty good).

I did manage to overdo it and throw my shoulder out a bit, but I've done that in the past with Wii before.

Also, the mounting hardware for TV's doesn't really impress, so for now it sits where my Wii sensor bar used to sit.
posted by kalessin at 10:36 AM on November 15, 2010


The body is good business
posted by stargell at 10:36 AM on November 15, 2010


It seems like we are encountering one massive shift after another these days.

Once I can walk into games workshop and just scan a couple minatures I'm sure nobody would object to just pinting up a few at home. It's not like the original is gone from the store.

There needs to an entirely new language added to our understanding of buisness and capitalism. We are into the realm of theft of potential profit, and the consumer uncertainty principal. If I had to pay $9.95 for a orc figurine who knows if I'd even want it.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:39 AM on November 15, 2010


The cat petting demo sold me. I've always wanted to pet a cat but I don't want to physically touch anything, now I can pet all the cats I want.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:42 AM on November 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


heh, yes, true, that was a butchered incorrect sentence, that needed an edit, mangled my meaning, definitely meant what you said lumpenprole;I had a post/preview button push mixup- was writing from memory, I suppose my memory was implying it was written in opposition to people who write articles about why we need intellectual property laws... I confused my writing. Also mixed up with this article about the The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing (describes case law, and prior rulings affecting 3d scanning/duplication developments)

Perhaps surprisingly, under UK law it transpires that in the scenario presented Bridget and Charlie may not have infringed Acme’s IP rights. Purely personal use of 3D printing to make copies of household objects and spare parts does not infringe the IP rights that commonly protect such items, such as design protection, patents or trade marks. However, there are areas, such as the reproduction of artistic works, where IP rights such as copyright may be infringed. The advent of low-cost 3D printing may therefore pose challenges to several communities: manufacturers, who may be unable to enforce design protection against private users of 3D printing; artists, who may see a new forum for infringement of works previously difficult to copy, and users of low-cost 3D printing, who may face confusion as to what is legitimate and illegitimate use of the technology.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:42 AM on November 15, 2010


Could you imagine the unholy shitstorm if it were Apple doing this?

But what if Obama did this?
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:46 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the Kinect sees when it looks at you

Complete with an eerie industrial hum.
posted by codacorolla at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: One big issue is lack of finger identification and how that prevents you from doing a lot of interesting stuff.
posted by mecran01 at 11:03 AM on November 15, 2010


The most disturbing thing about this post was the word "disthrone".
posted by New England Cultist at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sounds like every management 'Oh, X will never happen' lines.

Except you're not forced to buy one of these things the way you're forced to go along with whatever your pointy-haired boss wants if you need to get paid. You can buy this thing, or not, as you see fit. While I am not very interested in games, I like what this device allows in other areas - creative software, information manipulation and so on. It's what will replace the mouse. Unless you choose to keep using yours.

Complete with an eerie industrial hum.

ALL GLORY TO THE TECHNOTOAD
posted by anigbrowl at 11:08 AM on November 15, 2010


The most advanced 3D motion capture tech to be released at a consumer price-point, and the only compelling thing that the largest IT company in the world can think of to do with it is to sell targeted ads. What a black hole of talent Microsoft is.
posted by vanar sena at 11:11 AM on November 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


The killer app for Kinect will not be a game - it'll be the video and photo navigation. Can you turn it on without a remote too?
posted by mouthnoize at 11:17 AM on November 15, 2010


How long until "poison" is one of the ingredients in McDonalds hamburgers? How long until "enhanced interrogation techniques" are used on dissenting voters?? How long until "disrupting business" is a good enough reason for a company to hire someone to KILL YOU???

Every time I read that, I cant help but hear it in the voice of Tom Selleck in those AT&T "You Will" commercials from the early 90's.
posted by chambers at 11:37 AM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're just going to have a hard time forcing a physical peripheral on people.

Tell it to Harmonix.

Oh wait, they're doing Kinect stuff too.

Unlike the Wii or (to some extent) Move, Kinect isn't being positioned as a controller replacement. No one expects you to play Call of Duty via Kinect. It's like Rock Band: a specialized controller used for games where it makes sense.

Dance Central is all kinds of awesome, and exactly the kind of game Kinect is made for.

Given that the Kinect costs about as much as the full Rock Band set did, and will eventually have a wider variety of dance, exercise, and party games, I think it's got a good shot.

As another question; has Microsoft's gaming division finally managed to turn a profit?

The gaming division has been profitable for years now. This past quarter it made 382 million in proft.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


The most advanced 3D motion capture tech to be released at a consumer price-point, and the only compelling thing that the largest IT company in the world can think of to do with it is to sell targeted ads. What a black hole of talent Microsoft is.
posted by vanar sena


They tried to sell it to Apple first.
posted by mecran01 at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2010


The idea that the Kinect is both voice and motion controlled makes me believe that the platform's killer app will be EA Sports Soccer Dad

You are clearly undervaluing the interactive porn potential here. The killer app for this is going to be the ability to watch yourself having sex with whoever you want.

That's where it goes from "interesting toy" to "generating billions in revenue" for whomever is clever enough to make it work.
posted by quin at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Complete with an eerie industrial hum.

As long as it's not an OMINOUS hum... Those Strohl Plasma Cannons - I don't think I'd want to be on the receiving end of their output...
posted by JB71 at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you turn it on without a remote too?

No, Microsoft wanted the Kinect to "be green" and not consume power while it's supposed to be off in order to watch for you to want to turn it on.
posted by Servo5678 at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2010


Microsoft Kinect (née Project Natal) is sure to be a monster hit this season, and no surprise...a $500 million marketing budget

I love how you assert Kinect will be a "monster hit," not because you think it's great or because you've heard everyone who tries it loves it or something but just because Microsoft is going to buy lots of ads.

It worked for the Zune.
posted by straight at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are clearly undervaluing the interactive porn potential here. The killer app for this is going to be the ability to watch yourself having sex with whoever you want.

That's where it goes from "interesting toy" to "generating billions in revenue" for whomever is clever enough to make it work.


Okay - is Fleshlight publicly traded? Put a patterned marker on it and...

You're still humping a piece of plastic in the air, but as long as you keep your eyes on the screen... um, never mind on that.

(Backs off, whistling uneasily...)
posted by JB71 at 11:54 AM on November 15, 2010


So last night I was at Wal-Mart (I needed lettuce! And coffee! And beer! And ArcaniA: Gothic IV! Don't judge me!) and they had a Kinect demo running. There were people standing around it, watching a a kid walk around some colorful jungle-type virtual environment. While the employee unlocked the cabinet to get my game, I asked her about the Kinect. She said she'd just sold the last one they had in the store, they were getting a bunch more tomorrow, and they sold as fast as they could get them to the shelves. "It's like when the Wii first came out. Everybody wants one for Christmas," she said. I said that I thought it was neat technology, but there really weren't any games out for it yet that I wanted to play. And, I added, I'm not comfortable giving Microsoft a window into my living room. She looked puzzled and asked me what I meant. Well, I explained, it's a set of cameras and a microphone and it's hooked up to the Internet. Who knows where that data goes or who's using it for what? Her face fell. "I'd never thought about it that way. I have one on layaway for my son for his birthday but now I'm gonna hafta study on this," she told me.

So at least I managed to sow a few seeds of paranoia in a Wal-Mart employee.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2010 [19 favorites]


Is it even legal for them to be pumping so much money into a division that loses money hand-over-fist?

Is the statement even accurate? Is there a reason an entity can't spend money on a project they think has potential?

The most advanced 3D motion capture tech to be released at a consumer price-point, and the only compelling thing that the largest IT company in the world can think of to do with it is to sell targeted ads. What a black hole of talent Microsoft is.

Very new technology isn't being used in a refined way yet. Yes. Interesting you didn't provide any alternate ideas. Everything winds up getting used for pr0n anyway, so how interesting a progression could it possibly be?

Please stop making me defend Microsoft.
posted by yerfatma at 12:01 PM on November 15, 2010


Koeselitz, that does look pretty silly (and conjures up headlines like 'Study: Xbox owners more likely to die at zoo, on safari'), but remember how popular Tamagotchi were: what's being shown here is not a game, but a toy.

It's a very shrewd move on Microsoft's part, and it strikes me that almost all the teaser marketing I've seen over the last year or two for the Kinect has been geared towards women. Consider the Milo demo shown in 2009 - likely staged, and more aspirational than actual, but the point is that what's being sold here is a very different kind of user experience from that which is usually offered to male gamers. Advertising for PS3 and even Wii leans heavily towards competitive gaming still, and their idea of attracting female customers involves showing them beating the guys - I'm 99% sure those ads were written and directed by men.

All the game manufacturers want to become more attractive to female customers because changing socioeconomic demographics show that women are increasingly likely to be the high earners and financial decision makers in the household nowadays. Women also outnumber men in multiplayer online games. While flagship games like 'Call of Duty' and so on do make a lot of money, they also appeal almost exclusively to males and cost a fortune to develop; women have more eclectic tastes, are less impressed by technical specs (of the sort required to deliver 3d photorealism) and, I believe, play for somewhat different reasons.

It's striking to me that although Kinect is by far the best hardware solution to interaction since Sony's instroduction of the two-handed controller, very little of the marketing material we've seen from MS has featured its use by men or for (virtually) destructive purposes, even though it would be perfect for GRAR Hulk SMASH gameplay. Most of their promotion has been of software toys, participation games (like dance routines etc.) and videoconferencing. As this spoof shows, popular guy games enhanced by Kinect are not necessarily suitable for the living room. On the other hand, another release of Katamari looks inevitable.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:04 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


So at least I managed to sow a few seeds of paranoia in a Wal-Mart employee ruin some kid's birthday.
posted by timdicator at 12:05 PM on November 15, 2010 [15 favorites]


because the 3rd and 4th generation of these will make computer mice obsolete.

I dunno. The mouse actually has two obvious advantages that might be tricky to work around.

1) I can take my hand off it

2) I can use it under my duvet

...for playing Sam and Max in bed
posted by Sparx at 12:08 PM on November 15, 2010


And, I added, I'm not comfortable giving Microsoft a window into my living room...it's a set of cameras and a microphone and it's hooked up to the Internet.

Forget Microsoft. The real fun will begin when someone writes a virus that records video in your living room and then posts it to the internet somewhere.
posted by straight at 12:14 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]




I find this amusing because I think Sony owns the patent for this. If I remember correctly they took it out in 2006 regarding the PS3 EYE as a "protective" patent.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:23 PM on November 15, 2010


And, I added, I'm not comfortable giving Microsoft a window into my living room...it's a set of cameras and a microphone and it's hooked up to the Internet.

Why is this thing bad, but laptops with integrated video cameras and microphones that are very directly hooked up to the internet, and also nearly all of which have viruses, are OK?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:25 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


People would be lining up to buy it.

Based on online stock shortages, people already are.

Anyway, we were wanting to get a Kinect ourselves sometime soon (mostly for Dance Central), but since our house just got broken into again (twice in less than 12 months) and our 360 got stolen (again) along with our TV, that's become much less of a concern. *sigh*
posted by kmz at 12:35 PM on November 15, 2010


"And, I added, I'm not comfortable giving Microsoft a window into my living room...it's a set of cameras and a microphone and squirming tentacles and pulsating brain with scissor-like claws and a snorting blowhole and it's hooked up to the Internet!!!"
posted by mmrtnt at 12:36 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'

A sudden hot sweat had broken out all over Winston's body. His face remained completely inscrutable. Never show dismay! Never show resentment! A single flicker of the eyes could give you away. He stood watching while the instructress raised her arms above her head and -- one could not say gracefully, but with remarkable neatness and efficiency -- bent over and tucked the first joint of her fingers under her toes.


It's like they're not even trying anymore.

Actually, "Ingsoc Calisthenic Challenge" might present an interesting response to the WiiFit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:41 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why is this thing bad, but laptops with integrated video cameras and microphones that are very directly hooked up to the internet, and also nearly all of which have viruses, are OK?

Case in point.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:49 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


yerfatma: Very new technology isn't being used in a refined way yet. Yes. Interesting you didn't provide any alternate ideas.

Well you're putting me up against the entire complex of MS development and third-party game devs, but my immediate thought was - I'd love a port of Jade Empire that uses the Kinect for combat.

Meanwhile, more than half the launch titles are sports and fitness games and a good chunk of the remaining ones are dance games. There's nothing wrong with that, but it looks quite clear that they looked at the most popular games on the Wii and went "Let's do THAT."
posted by vanar sena at 12:50 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a rather sinister turn kinect enabled robots are following people, how long before microsoft uses robots to kill people who pirate windows.

shocking video
posted by Ad hominem at 1:02 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still Halo Kinect would be awesome.
posted by tybeet at 1:03 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl: “Advertising for PS3 and even Wii leans heavily towards competitive gaming still, and their idea of attracting female customers involves showing them beating the guys - I'm 99% sure those ads were written and directed by men.”

I agreed with a lot of what you said, but this? I don't think I've ever seen a Wii advertisement like that. All of them seem to be suburban middle-aged people doing Yoga or grandmothers playing little games or something. That seems to be the big market the Wii plumbed, and they made a shitton of money because that market went for the novelty of playing video games that didn't have the stigma of video games.

That didn't change that market's mind about what video games are, though. Nintendo had the cachet because of their name, and because Wii was so spacey and cool. Microsoft's Kinect appears to be betting that that segment has basically taken on the buying habits of hardcore gamers; and at that I laugh heartily. Getting them to buy another console for a few hundred dollars, and the games that go with it – especially since tech like this is always a loss leader and depends on game sales? Bloody unlikely. Microsoft is trying to plumb a market that done been plumbed. Sorry.

“It's striking to me that although Kinect is by far the best hardware solution to interaction since Sony's instroduction of the two-handed controller...”

Wait, who introduced the two-handed controller again?

I think I get what you're saying about women being appealed to. But, again, I disagree; mostly because I know a lot of women gamers (all but one of my close friends that game are women, actually) and I know what you're saying – yeah, Call of Duty, Halo, blah blah blah. But – as someone who doesn't play many video games myself, let me say this – those games, while they get a lot of advertising dollars, are not by any stretch the core of games, I think, that really motivate people that play games, and particularly women who play games. I'm resisting the urge to chide you and say that a lot of women play Call Of Duty – I'm sure you know this, and yes, the video game industry clearly spends a lot of advertising dollars based on perceptions about gender-based preferences.

But I still believe that, in essence, what women really want out of games is at heart the same thing men want – immersive games that provide an experience, generally telling a rich and detailed story, and give them long stretches of entertainment and enjoyment. I don't believe there's anything in gender that leads women not to want that sort of thing, even if the (very false) perception is that "women don't play video games."

And the chief problem with the Kinect – and the Move, and the Wii for that matter – is that I haven't yet seen anything like that for a motion-capture platform. I've seen games that tried to do this, yes; but I've never seen a game that succeeded. I've never seen an immersive, rich, enthralling game that made you want to play it for hours on end that wasn't based on that classic two-hand controller. I know that seems arbitrary, and that's why people are pushing for things like the Kinect; but it's still very hard for me to imagine something like, say, Assassin's Creed II on the Kinect. And until there's that killer game – that Super Mario World, as it were – that makes everyone want to use the Kinect as a platform, I can't see video games as an art advancing through it. Until then, it will be just a toy.

And yes, toys are inferior to video games, at least if you're talking about their ability to engage people and thereby make money. You only buy a toy once, for instance. And you get bored of it. See: middle america's thousands of Wiis that are this moment sitting next to their televisions gathering dust.
posted by koeselitz at 1:22 PM on November 15, 2010


I'm not sure how accurate its dimensioning is but if it does work, it should be possible to use the Kinect for clothing sizing. Get naked (or down to underwear), spin around in front of it, and it should have a depth map of you. From this, the clothing sizes that will fit you can be inferred.

The trick is making sure that the customer sees only flattering numbers, like the dial going up to 11. "Hey, I can buy a size 6 dress from this store!" Doesn't mean you're actually a size 6; but apparently clothing sizes are not a mandatory standardized measure in the USA, so there's nothing actually stopping Wal-Mart from having its own numbers for sizes; on the contrary, if you're a "Wal-Mart size 6" who tries to order a size 6 skirt from American Apparel, the skirt will be too small. Not you too big, the skirt too small.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:51 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is this thing bad, but laptops with integrated video cameras and microphones that are very directly hooked up to the internet, and also nearly all of which have viruses, are OK?

Because my desktop is in my office, but the bong is in the living room.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:52 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


straight: I love how you assert Kinect will be a "monster hit," not because you think it's great or because you've heard everyone who tries it loves it or something but just because Microsoft is going to buy lots of ads.

Kinect looks like it will be a monster hit because "sales of Kinect bundled with the 4GB 360 console leapt 67 per cent, while sales of the 250GB Kinect console bundle rose 43 per cent" after Oprah gave away Kinect 360 bundles to her audience. The pre-order numbers must have looked good, since Microsoft raised their forecast of Kinect sales this holiday season to 5 million units from its previous forecast of 3 million units.


schmod: As another question; has Microsoft's gaming division finally managed to turn a profit?

They turned their first profit in 2007, following the release of Halo 3. They brought in $382 in profits last quarter.
posted by joedan at 1:58 PM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


the core of games, I think, that really motivate people that play games

You're alluding to "hardcore" games like Fallout 3 that suck people in for long hours, but your point is just as true for the more mainstream casual games that suck people in for hours at a time.

I can't see my mom standing in front of a television, waving her arms around, for 2 hours to play BejeweledKinect.
posted by straight at 2:17 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


They brought in $382,000,000 in profits last quarter.

Fixed that for you.
posted by linux at 2:26 PM on November 15, 2010


They brought in $382 in profits last quarter.

Boy, they can almost afford to by a full Xbox 360 with a Kinect! ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2010


Because my desktop is in my office, but the bong is in the living room.

Well hell. That explains a lot.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:38 PM on November 15, 2010


I'm a hardcore gamer. I have a tricked out gaming PC and a 360 for me, and the wii for the missus. My PS3 is mainly for watching TV and streaming HDTV video to the TV as my HTPC is bust.

I'm planning on getting the kinect* for child of eden. it's by the same guy that did Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. The kinect demo at E3 for it looked *really* impressive, and pretty much the definition of synesthesia. Definitely one to hook up a projector for.

Dance Central is just my excuse so my wife will let me buy it. Well, admittedly, I am a big Rock Band fan, so I might be tempted into strutting my stuff. Just a little...


* Assuming I can actually buy one before they go out of stock again.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:41 PM on November 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Star Wars Kid, you were just ahead of your time.
posted by benzenedream at 2:59 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


the same guy that did Rez

Oh that's now very interesting.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2010


I agreed with a lot of what you said, but this? I don't think I've ever seen a Wii advertisement like that. All of them seem to be suburban middle-aged people doing Yoga or grandmothers playing little games or something

Well, I did rather overstate my case there - as soon as I'd posted I was thinking 'oh yeah, shoulda qualified that with the Wii Fit...' But that said, I still think a majority of the commercials showed people playing competitively, even if the competition was old folk enjoying Wii Bowling. Oh, and s/sony/Nintendo on the dual hand/gamepad controller.

what women really want out of games is at heart the same thing men want – immersive games that provide an experience, generally telling a rich and detailed story, and give them long stretches of entertainment and enjoyment. I don't believe there's anything in gender that leads women not to want that sort of thing, even if the (very false) perception is that "women don't play video games."

To answer this backwards, I certainly do think women play videogames - my wife plays a lot more intensively that I do, in fact. I completely forgot to offer any personal context here, as I mixed MeFi up with a smaller more technical discussion where I've made frequent reference to this - sorry. In brief, Mrs Browl cleans my clock at any sort of abstract 2d game, while I tend to be better at (and prefer) detail-rich 3d games. A downside of this is that there are not many games we can enjoyably play together; we both like Little Big Planet (though I get pissy because she is usually many steps ahead of me), and the Katamari family (where our different skills happen to complement each other neatly). So I only play for politeness' sake in anything 'flat' like Tetris, Zuma or Scrabble and my participation is limited to getting beaten, hard, as a warmup for her online play. On the other hand, she gets annoyed with emergent-behavior games like Flow or Flower, and fell apart completely on Space Giraffe, which might have been designed specifically for me. We're not typical - if anything, we're more edge cases of particular strengths and weaknesses, some of which are gender-atypical. So some of my views are informed by that, but I don't generalize from our own cases because they're not all that representative of the general public.

Anyhow, I am not convinced women and men necessarily want the same kind of immersive experience. For me it would be a Metal Gear type adventure, for Mrs Browl that would be more about new puzzle challenges that she could only access by winning x number of iterated two handers or reaching a certain spot on the ratings table. Once I have made it to the end of a game I'm probably not interested in playing it again for better performance (my idea of immersiveness is going down all the side challenges and so on during play, so that I get to the end feeling like I've seen all of it rather than in the minimum time). she tends to prefer something that can be played for a long time but can also be maintained with quick dips when she's busy, and doesn't have to involve an exclusive time commitment. Right now, for example, she defends her position in some sort of online scrabble league with about 20-30 minutes of multi-opponent play morning and evening. My point here is not that women don't want or can't enjoy the same sort of games, but that they may have different criteria from men about what makes a game or toy enjoyable over the long term.

And yes, toys are inferior to video games, at least if you're talking about their ability to engage people and thereby make money.

Again, quality here is very much in the eye of the beholder. I can't understand what is so fascinating about dressing up a doll in different clothes, but that pursuit seems to have sustained years and years of investment in Barbie dolls, online avatars, and even Myspace pages. Although I gather it was eventually overtaken by porn, when I had a Second Life account the most successful players seemed to be those who understood and catered to people's desire to buy virtual clothes and decorate virtual houses.

You are right about Wii's gathering dust, but I think the main problem here is that Nintendo stuck with low-quality hardware and devalued their own platform by staying away from HD right when it was beginning to become popular and affordable. It worked in the short term as they made huge sales, but they should have been ready to go with a more powerful box 2-3 years later after prices had come down. Wii's problem now is that no matter how engaging the games or social toys, it just doesn't look that great now, and Nintendo has missed a huge opportunity by not following up. More than any single game, what we've enjoyed most as a family (me, wife, her hardcore gamer brothers-in-law) on the Wii was Mii-based social gaming and the silly online polls about whether the glass was half-full or half empty.

Where Kinect differs is in being a good general-purpose interface to powerful systems. Playstation Eye was just a PS-branded webcam, and webcams have never gone anywhere other than for online chat. The Sony motion wand or whatever it's called was an astonishing admission of failure - it's basically a PS-branded WiiMote that needs an Eyetoy to work properly. I quite agree that no killer app for the Kinect has appeared yet either, but in fairness the thing has just come out. And although nothing it has launched with is very impressive, the possibilities are, as evidenced by these excited hackers. Personally, I think MS was well aware of this, for all their public huffing and puffing about it, and wants to see what people do with it as a weathervane to what they should fund for it. I'm pretty sure that by January people are already going to be using to browse the web in Minority Report style, and the base web chat functionality and general novelty will sustain it through the first year app desert.

What will set it apart from existing controllers is the first compelling game that can't be played any other way. That could take a while, just as it took a while for applications and games to properly leverage the mouse instead of using it as an accessory to the keyboard, or forcing it as an alternative that doesn't actually add functionality (I'm looking at you Apple). But I can already see it providing a big increase in desktop productivity for anyone doing 3d modelling. Or using it with Google Earth. Or...
posted by anigbrowl at 3:15 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There needs to an entirely new language added to our understanding of buisness and capitalism.

Spimes
posted by lumpenprole at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2010


facetious: "I'm paying the extra $250,000 for the full-body scanner option. Because I'm worth it."

It's all laughs until you realize it actually already does that.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2010


Personally, I think MS was well aware of this, for all their public huffing and puffing about it,

Well I actually worked on Kinect in the early days of the project, and since that experience I have a good belly laugh whenever anyone says any variation of 'Microsoft wants to...'

MS is like a giant ameoba that is pulling in seventy directions at once and sometimes accidentally eats it's own pseudopod.

I'm sure the devs for Kinect are eating those videos up. And I'm fairly sure that the project leads for Kinect are just psyched that people are buying them. However, what the legal dept thinks, and whether the higher up execs listen to them are another story.

What will set it apart from existing controllers is the first compelling game that can't be played any other way

Yeah, and that's what confuses me. I saw a lot of demos of existing stuff modded to use it from big developers early on. I don't know why nothing came of that stuff. I find the launch line-up pretty underwhelming. Although as a former DDR fan, I'm thinking about picking it up just for the dance game.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:47 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's why I qualified it as a personal hunch rather than reliable analysis :-)

In that vein, I'm not really surprised by the single-app launch - for one thing, I don't think that $500m figure is much more than hype, for another I think it's easier to launch one product that depends on novelty value than 20. Every member of the public I've seen so far has a positive wanna-try-it reaction to the device, so the smartest thing for MS to do in a situation like that is to clam up. I'll be extraordinarily surprised if they sue anyone over reverse-engineering it, unless it's one of those lawsuits where they turn around and give the guy a job amid a flood of publicity.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:25 PM on November 15, 2010


Threeway Handshake: "This is just another example of Microsoft playing catch-up. "

*snicker*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:34 PM on November 15, 2010


But I still believe that, in essence, what women really want out of games is at heart the same thing men want – immersive games that provide an experience, generally telling a rich and detailed story, and give them long stretches of entertainment and enjoyment

I think thats one type of game. But both men and women love Rock Band, which is not at all like what you describe.

What will set it apart from existing controllers is the first compelling game that can't be played any other way

Which is Dance Central. The difference between foot buttons (DDR) and full-body tracking in a dance-style game is tremendous.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:43 PM on November 15, 2010


I went to the electronics store yesterday for something unrelated to gaming and paused by the Kinect display. One of the kids testing it out hit me in the nuts while flailing about. Thus far, I don't like Kinect very much.
posted by sanko at 7:35 PM on November 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


"The difference between foot buttons (DDR) and full-body tracking in a dance-style game is tremendous."

It really is. In Dance Central, all these people would have been sent back to the menu screen 10 seconds into their routines. Finer tracking of players means less room for emergent gameplay.

Not that there's anything wrong with Dance Central - it looks like a lot of fun. But there is a tradeoff to giving up the controllers.
posted by marakesh at 12:41 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh, I remember all the posters who said the technology was just straight-up impossible. This was based, I think, on people who didn't realize it had a depth sensor.

As far as other companies bringing things out and patents, 3D imaging technology isn't new, if they do have patents I'm sure there are other methods that can be used.
posted by delmoi at 5:13 AM on November 16, 2010


But I still believe that, in essence, what women really want out of games is at heart the same thing men want – immersive games that provide an experience, generally telling a rich and detailed story

Those aren't games. Those are slightly interactive movies. Games have a lose condition--a real one--and possibly have a high score. They can be played many times, are accessible to novices but continue to be interesting as the player gets better and better at them. Civilization, Spelunky, Pacman, pinball: these are games. Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, and their ilk are just badly written movies pasted onto pretty 3D environments, with a bunch of repetitive, unchallenging violence you have to slog through in order to see all of the content.

Speaking as someone who is either a man or a women, I'd like to see the videogame industry actually make more games.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:46 AM on November 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


More on Kinnect Open - Sourcing
posted by stratastar at 9:17 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those aren't games. Those are slightly interactive movies.

Call of Duty!
posted by Artw at 10:23 PM on November 17, 2010


Shadow puppets; future warfare.

With Theo and Emily
posted by infinite intimation at 8:48 PM on November 22, 2010


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