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Usability Expert: Kinect Tech Great For Games, Not So Much For Business Apps

Usability expert Dr. Jakob Nielsen examines Microsoft's Xbox 360 Kinect sensor, stating the device is an "exciting advance" for entertainment, but the tech is not pract
Usability expert Dr. Jakob Nielsen explained in a new Gamasutra feature that despite certain outstanding usability issues, Microsoft's Xbox 360 Kinect sensor can still be a lot of fun for gaming and entertainment. But using the device's technology for more serious business applications isn't quite as practical, he argued. "Kinect is an exciting advance in user interface technology," explained Nielsen. "But many of the user experience characteristics that make it [fun] also mean that it's not the road ahead for the practical user interfaces that businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations need for their everyday websites, intranets, and applications," he added. "Design ideas that make Kinect fun could cost you millions." Nielsen said Kinect users are willing to look past the device's usability "deficiencies" while playing video games because gaming is entertainment, and usability shortfalls have no real-life repercussions. For instance, a usability quirk in a Kinect game might mean that a player accidentally goes back a screen. On the other hand, a usability quirk in a business application could mean that you just sold the wrong stock or accidentally sent a sensitive email to the packaging department. "...Whacky interaction styles in games rarely pose problems. What we really care about in tablet design are business-oriented user interfaces for things like e-commerce, stock trading, and information access," said Nielsen. "That's when inconsistencies and weird design reduce usage, and thus cost you business." In the full Gamasutra feature, Nielsen explains where Kinect usability comes up short, and how gesture-based UI inherently leads to usability weakness -- but can at the same time provide plenty of fun.

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