Xbox One console dumps Kinect hand gestures

Luke Graham, special to

Microsoft's video games console, the Xbox One, launched a software update Thursday which redesigned the dashboard and introduced new features, but also removed the ability to control the device using hand gestures.

Previously, gamers could use the Xbox Kinect - a camera attached to the console - to make selections and navigate menu screens using hand gestures and voice commands.

Mike Ybarra, the head of the team who developed the update, explained why the feature had been dropped in an interview with industry website Windows Central.

"When we looked at the New Xbox One Experience (the new update) we wanted to prioritize features that customers were asking for, plus areas of improvement from the existing Xbox One UI (user interface)," Ybarra said.

"With gestures, the reality was the usage was very, very low. So for now, we've cut that from the New Xbox One Experience."

Games that support the Kinect feature will still function.

An Xbox One Kinect motion sensor and camera
David Caudery | GamesMaster Magazine | Getty Images

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This is a big turn-around from 2013, when Microsoft executives claimed the Kinect was "an essential and integrated" part of the device. It is also underlines a change of direction by console makers, as gesture controls were de riguer during the middle part of the last decade.

Initially, all Xbox consoles were sold with a Kinect for $499 when it was launched in 2013. But, disappointing sales led the company to change tact in June 2014 and it began selling the console without the Kinect for a lower price of $399.

Sales of the Xbox are believed to be struggling against its competition, Sony's Playstation 4. Sony claims the PS4 has sold more than 25 million units from November 2013 to July 2015, whereas Microsoft has not issued an update since November last year, when it announced it had sold around 10 million units since launch.

Other features of the latest update, include more integration with Windows 10 and backwards compatibility for 104 games (previously, the Xbox One could not play any games designed for the earlier consoles, the Xbox and the Xbox 360).

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