Kids love exploring and playing. They also spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV. Can TV portray life as a game? The folks at Sesame Street have joined forces with Microsoft and came up with a pretty good answer.
Does your child spend lots of time watching TV? TV is like a pseudo-babysitter but the relationship is often somewhat passive. Do you want your child to develop the couch potato habit? Sesame Street connects with Xbox Kinect to help your children get more involved with the show. Is it TV? Is it a game? It’s a little of both as a revival of interactive TV.
Years ago, as Blu-ray players were introduced, there was a feature called BD-Live. It introduced a concept of interacting with your TV. It’s a cool idea that never quite reached its potential. Now Microsoft’s Xbox 360 videogame console is creating an interactive system for youngsters that watch Sesame Street. Using the Kinect accessory, kids can be more active when viewing their favorite characters and situations on Sesame Street.
This isn’t a traditional endeavor for the X360 Kinect. Kinect Sesame Street isn’t a game as such; it’s more of an interactive experience of the legendary television show featuring Muppet pals Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, Cookie Monster, creepy Bert, and more. Young viewers of the show today will note that Kinect Sesame Street closely follows the 2011-2012 season and its modern-day cast, but there is plenty of ‘old school’ Sesame Street on offer here for parents with nostalgic memories too.
It is the first of its kind in Microsoft’s Kinect range to introduce ‘two-way television’ gameplay, but this isn’t exactly a new concept. Kid shows like Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer have long included sequences where the TV will ask their kid audience to answer questions and pause for their response. The problem here is that the TV has no way of knowing if the kids were yelling out the right answer, or anything even recognizable as human language. Often poor old Steve or Big Bird could be reinforcing the fact that 3 comes after 1 or that Grover is actually a yellow kangaroo. Kinect hopes to change all that.
Here’s an example of how this might work. You meet Grover and Cookie Monster in the street. Mr. Monster, in his typical lust for cookies, has bowled over Grover who happened to be carrying a box of 4 coconuts. Instead of watching Grover pick them up and carry on, now viewers can help out their blue furry clumsy chum. Picking up and throwing imaginary coconuts at the screen literally has them flying toward Grover who will catch them in his box in front of your eyes. Sometimes it helps to have an adult to help demonstrate what needs to be done, but with careful visual and audio cues, most kids will have no problem getting the premise and the action.
“Kinect Sesame Street TV” invites children into an interactive TV experience where they not only watch their favorite Sesame Street episodes, but also engage with beloved characters including Big Bird, Grover, Oscar and more. The magic of Kinect for Xbox 360 transforms passive viewing into active participation, encouraging children to use their gestures, voices and bodies to interact with educational content on the screen.
Using a video camera that captures the image and movements of children as well as their parents and siblings (who often enjoy participating in the activities as much as the 2- to 4-year-olds Sesame Street’s educational content traditionally targets), “Kinect Sesame Street TV” intends to use a child’s physicality to help them learn fundamental concepts like spatial relations, enumeration and letter sounds.
Taking the habitual behavior of TV and converting it into a fun, interactive quasi-life experience is a major innovation for TV. Both Sesame Street and Kinect are gambling that it’ll become popular.
If parents consider the potential and initially get involved with their kids, this investment can earn a wide range of interest. Is passive or active a question? Let’s go for the mix and untap this new technology. It may be the answer we’ve been looking for.