Setting up the Xbox 360 with Kinect was surprisingly easy. However, I did not like being pushed to join Xbox live, which may be because I'm not an adept at video games and I do not like being pushed to join subscription services. The menus seem to intentionally "push" you to do this to get updates, etc. I do not want to join any service, be tracked, compete with other people, etc. I just want to exercise.
As a whole, using the Nike + Kinect training program was a positive experience, but there is definitely a learning curve and it seems that there are certain difficulties that must be solved.
Here are some things that I liked about the training program:
- The program "feels" right. There is a nice use of computer animation with real clips from the coaches. There is something in knowing that they are real people that is motivating.
- When you track progress, the system really feels like a coach! This is not a small achievement. I have a coach, and there were times when he felt like he was there. Much and good use of motivation and, sometimes, specific recommendations.
- Counting the reps, recording the statistics and holographic image of yourself with the virtual trainer are great features, as they make the program seem to understand what you expect to find in a personal trainer.
- I liked that you could choose what kind of exercises you want, including ones of just five minutes.
- I liked the creative integration of graphics, such as glass walls, which you should avoid so that they do not break.
Here are some things that I did not like about the training program:
- The Xbox live interaction was not clear. I did not know if it was going to cost me money, etc. Also, this should not be the only way to get the updates.
- The Kinect integration was too rough for a finished product. It was often very difficult to get him to recognize basic things like "greeting".
- The configuration of the Kinect device had its difficulty. It turns out that during my whole evaluation session, my Kinect sensor was far behind and the program was only recording the movement of half of my body. It seems absurd that the Xbox accepted this, but it did! I had no idea what was happening. Finally, I realized that my legs had to be in the program and moved the sensor up. However, there should be an automatic sensor test before the program starts. You need to verify the position before entering the exercise routine.
- Similarly, in the fitness test, there were several exercises that were not recorded correctly. It's hard to know what's happening, particularly when the coach asks you to sit along.You can not watch TV and keep the correct form, so often I simply had to cancel the test in question. But this was not easy!
- In the same line, there should be some kind of "start" or "back" button that always allows you to leave the "place" you are in. Too many errant hand movements or too much misunderstood body language will result in people wanting to start over again, but the system does not facilitate this at all.
- The system did not remind me and I had to create a new character. This was irritating. Maybe I did something wrong.
- Some exercises do not have instructions (like the glass wall). They just start, which is confusing.
- There was not much emphasis on elongation or cooling, which I would have liked.
- Some of the corrections are written on the screen, which is useless if you are doing an exercise on the floor or without looking at the television. There should be corrections for sound instead.
- I did not like that the program forced me to commit on certain days. This is not realistic in relation to people's schedules. I think it stresses me, rather than adding value. When I make myself present, give me an exercise and motivate me to return.
- Even though the game had established an exercise plan for me based on my test, when I came back it seemed to want to give me another fitness challenge. Instead, I ended up just doing a lot of five-minute exercises. These exercises are very good and a great function, but what I really wanted was for the game to see me and immediately recognize that we were going to start exercising.
As a whole, there is a lot of potential in this product. It definitely feels like the first generation and it's too rough for me to recommend it. But I bet that with some adjustments (mostly related to the need for Xbox and Nike to observe real users while using the product and fall into all difficulties, and that the product is improved accordingly) this could be a powerful application that would get people to stop using trainers, and start using their Xbox! I can see all kinds of other applications: pilates, yoga, elongation, etc.
By Alyse Levine