Today, Microsoft introduced, as part of its “playful learning” initiative, the “Kinect Sesame Street TVexperience. It was announced at an event in New York, and appears to be scheduled to come out in the spring of next year. It is designed to be a truly interactive experience between children and the Sesame Street characters.
A motion-sensing camera allows the children to interact with the characters through the use of voice and gestures. Characters on screen will respond based on what the child is doing. For instance, Grover will be able to tell a child to throw coconuts and will respond based on how hard the child throws. In the video below, you can get a first-hand glance at some of the features to come.
The people of Sesame Street are excited about this, as well. Miles Ludwig, managing director of content innovation and Sesame Workshop, said, “Now kids will be able to have adventures with their Sesame Street friends and be a part of the adventure in a way that’s never been possible before. We’re very excited about this partnership with Microsoft that will capitalize on new technologies to bring altogether new kinds of educational and of course, entertaining experiences to families.”
National Geographic is joining in the fun too. “Kinect Nat Geo TV” will work in conjunction with Nat Geo WILD starting this spring. The Kinect will scan the room and transform it into a wildlife habitat. Children will interact with the room as if it were the wild outdoors. The Kinect even transforms their heads into animal heads onscreen. They can pretend to be foraging for food in the forest. Brad Dancer, senior vice president of digital media and research at the National Geographic Channel, said, “Because our programming is so information-rich we can only show so much, but Kinect Nat Geo TV’ offers the ability to go further than what the television show can do”. It’s truly interactive TV.
As a parent, I understand the concern many parents have about the amount of “screen” time kids have. As much as I love computers, I try to limit my kid’s exposure to the TV, internet, and video games. I strongly believe that children best learn through interaction with a parent. That being said, I like the idea behind games like this because they engage kids in more than just visual ways. Being prompted to move and respond physically will improve learning retention.
What do you think? Is this a passing fad or will interactive entertainment be the wave of the future?