Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Pondering the economic impact of the Kinect

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yes, we broke down and bought a Kinect last week. I won't speak for the guys, but I have some serious justification. You see, I'd like to start working out again. Since I suffer from asthma, I discovered the hard way that I can't go work out away from home in the winter. I have trouble in the summer because of the asthma. So why not just work out at home? Enter the Kinect.

The Kinect is like a Wii, but without the controllers. I knew I couldn't stop at just one set of controllers had I purchased a Wii. I'd have to have the bowling ball, and the light saber, and the fitness board, and you get the idea. Of course that leads to the inevitable "where do I put it all" question. Enter the Kinect, which uses your entire body as a controller, thanks to a camera, a chip, and some nifty software. Put the price of one of those up against a gym membership I can't use on a regular basis, and it makes sense.

Only there's one small - or not so small - problem: The Kinect requires space. Lots of space. I've moaned many times about my piece of - I mean, charmingly retro - 40 year-old house. The living room has a traffic pattern that was devised by the architects of Hell itself. It's a spacious room, but between the front door, the back door, and the kitchen door, there really isn't a lot of open space available. And the less I say about the fireplace in one corner, the better. It crosses TWO traffic zones and can never be a focal point. It's just there.

But back to the problem at hand. The Kinect requires a minimum of six feet of empty space in front of the TV - eight for two players. Or if you have a tall person like Paul in the family, the requirement is something like half a continent.

This means the average family will buy a Kinect and realize they have to do something to make room. At the very least it just may mean rearranging some furniture. But for people who live in a small space or with a jigsaw puzzle of a furniture arrangement like we do, it gets interesting. Do you buy new furniture? Do you get rid of furniture? Do you replace bits of furniture? Here's what we did:

First, we mapped out the room and decided the whole TV area needed to rotate 90 degrees. This necessitated moving a lot of furniture including bookcases and AV gear. We decided the best course of action would be to get rid of the ancient, cobbled-together VHS cabinet that we'd converted to hold DVDs. The next problem was, where to put all those discs? The answer was a very large credenza. And gosh, we just happened to have one in the garage. All the discs and the Xbox games and accessories fit in there, out of sight. The only problem is that the discs are all crammed in together. We'll look for some baskets. The ones we like the best are at the Container Store. Ker-ching. We'll keep looking. It's hard to justify $150 for baskets to shut away inside a free credenza.

We got everything rearranged, and of course the cat tree doesn't fit anywhere. Paul will have to build a new one, which is another expenditure. However, the existing structure is a decade old and falling apart in places. The cats will be happy to have a new climbing spot.

So you see, the economic impact of these things isn't just the initial expenditure of the hardware. It's in the redecorating. On the other side of the ledger is the money I won't spend on another gym membership I can only use for a few months out of the year. So for us it's probably a wash, except if everything works out as planned, I'll get in better shape, drop weight, need more clothes ... or I'll end up getting treated for injuries sustained while playing fitness games.

Are we having fun, yet? I'll let you know.

Tags: Life

Filed under: Life            


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