When Polygon first revealed Kinect PlayFit with the promise of universal fitness tracking and a heart rate monitor, I was intrigued. As a Chicagoan with an aversion to gyms, there are large parts of the year when Kinect is my main method of injecting a little fitness into my life. Naturally, I was excited when Kinect PlayFit suddenly dropped in the middle of last week, but this quickly gave way to disappointment as my wish list of potential features came face-to-face with the uninspired reality.
Here’s the problem: information about the number of calories burned only goes so far. Just as important is the amount of time spent burning those calories, and the absence of this information is as notable as it is confusing. Strangely, many of the compatible games already keep track of this information in-game. Even if not completely accurate in terms of actual exercise time, services like raptr also keep track of in-game time, so that information must be available somewhere. It seems like an oversight to not include it.
The absence of the rumored Joule heart rate monitor is also disheartening. Being able to track heart rate can be extremely helpful when working out, as it allows heart rate targets to be set for to maximize specific weight loss, strength, and cross-fitness workouts. The Joule isn’t the only piece of equipment being overlooked. Outside of just Kinect, Microsoft should have leveraged partner FitBit to get pedometer and sleep data for the rest of the day.
The thing is, while Kinect workouts can definitely be a great part of a healthy lifestyle, they are just that – a part. Just as important are nutrition, sleep, and other exercise such as walking, all of which can be easily tracked on FitBit’s website. Microsoft already sells FitBits via their online and brick and mortar stores. If they aren’t planning on developing their own lifestyle tracking site, they should at least leverage their existing partnerships to provide a worthwhile alternative integrated into the app.
I’m giving Microsoft a hard time, because I honestly expected more of them. With their partnerships with Nike and FitBit and a strong foothold in both the web and mobile space, the stars seemed to be aligned for a meaningful, all-in-one fitness solution. I’ll use Kinect PlayFit because it’s better than nothing, but I’m hoping a few months down the line I’ll be writing about how happy I am with Kinect PlayFit 2.0.