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Sci Tech    H4'ed 12/18/11

Still Looking for the Right Christmas Present?

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If you are one of the fortunate ones who have a few hundred bucks to spend on a Christmas present and are still looking to have something unique and fun for the entire family, consider an Xbox Kinect as a potential solution to your gift ing problem.  The Kinect add-on component was released for the Xbox last year a month before Christmas and it immediately made the wildly popular WII obsolete. Its advantage is that it needs no controllers for players to become active participants in video games that are presented through your home television monitor. The Kinect camera and laser system tracks player movements while they are acting out sports or adventure games and puts an avatar s that represent them directly into the video. As a lifetime, computer analyst, developer and architect I was stunned by the precision of the software system in tracking and displaying player movements as well as analyzing their playing ability and techniques.


The Kinect and Xbox sell for roughly $150 a piece or $300 for the set. That includes Microsoft Adventures which is actually four games in one. Players duck, jump or move a move a step left or right, to go on adventures such as negotiating an obstacle course or navigating a river raft. Kinect Sports has games such as Bowling, Boxing, Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Table Tennis and Track & Field. Golfing, skiing, tennis, football and baseball are new in "Season 2" this year.  Kinect also levels the playing field well so that children can compete more successfully with adults regardless of their size.


As a volleyball and table tennis player, I was fascinated to find that the software recognizes top spin or English in table tennis and bump, set , spike and block techniques in volleyball. The Track and Field game even increases the level of your competition as you improve your performance. Most games allow players to compete against each other or as a team against the computer. The games also take pictures of the players while they are playing and then insert them into the awards ceremony when the game is over. There is even an option to complete with other players through the internet .


There are a variety of additional third party sports and activities for Kinect too. There are workout videos such as the Latin oriented Zumba and a variety of dancing games for all ages including the newer Michael Jackson Experience that was released this year. On most of these games, your avatar turns red, green or yellow depending upon how well you mimic the dance or workout moves. Many activities allow two players to compete against each other at the same time. Younger children will enjoy the new Disneyland adventure that lets them control their journey throughout a virtual Disneyland Park, going on rides and meeting the Disney characters.


The system can be found almost anywhere and plugs into your TV in a matter of minutes . You should immediately get some great exercise with it and have years of fun too. You get into better shape after a couple of winter months without ever going outside. But beware, you might find yourself becoming much more tired or sore than usual and wondering why.

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Garland Favorito is the co-founder of VoterGA, which was established to restore the integrity of Georgia elections after the state implemented unverifibale voting statewide. He is also the author of Our Nation Betrayed, which, in its second (more...)

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