The Kinect Effect: Tracing the Constituents of a Technical Artefact
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On November 4, 2010, the Redmond-based software giant Microsoft released Kinect: a small motion sensing, webcam-like peripheral for the company’s game console Xbox 360. With approximately 133 units sold a day since launch, Kinect officially holds a Guinness World Record for fastest-selling consumer electronics device ever. Given this success, the choice to steer Kinect towards the PC might seem logical. A more thorough look into the events preceding the launch of Kinect for Windows, however, quickly defuses the assumption that the twinkling of dollar signs in the eyes of Microsoft’s corporate executives was the sole incentive to push Kinect beyond gaming and media. Numerous appropriations that emerged almost instantly after Kinect for Xbox 360 became available to consumers, which Microsoft labelled "The Kinect Effect", have also weighed in on the decision, as hobbyists opened doors to all sorts of fields ranging from robotics to medical research. This journey through the development of Kinect starts with the rather straightforward question why we now have this specific technology but is, along the way, keenly aware of the complexity and multifaceted nature of technological development. This study is an example of analysing technology from the inside, which reveals how interactions between various social factors and technical affordances constitute a specific technical artefact.