Microsoft shows off Kinect in Europe at Cannes

Software giant brings a huge entourage to promote its Xbox 360 hands-free controller

Microsoft has used the Cannes advertising festival to launch motion sensing game device Kinect in Europe, bringing with it an entourage of more than 400 to win over agencies and clients.

The US software giant has set up a technology showcase at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for innovations like Kinect, the device that plugs into the Xbox 360 to allow controller-free playing to take on Nintendo Wii's innovative wand.

Sean Alexander, the product manager at Microsoft who was involved in the glitzy launch of Kinect at the E3 gaming convention last week, said that to all intents and purposes Cannes represented the European launch.

Alexander held a meeting with 150 key industry professionals in the US last Tuesday, after the Kinect unveiling, and here in Cannes he is meeting senior ad executives and advertisers to get them on board.

"Kinect is all about how to try to innovate in the consumer space, about a new approach to entertainment," said Stephen Kim, general manager of global creative solutions, speaking to

"So here in Cannes the objective is how we can get advertisers and brands to think about what is possible in the same space. It is an opportunity to get brands involved in where the consumer experience is going next. NUI [the natural user interface that Kinect uses to detect users actions] is where we think major innovation exists," Kim added.

"Kinect is really the culmination of 20 years of research and design into NUI (natural user interface) – the sight, sound, gesture and body motion that Kinect detects – and what it means is a real emotional connection for advertisers with consumers."

Microsoft has erected a technology showcase on the Croisette. Alongside Kinect and technology such as a digital tagging system called Microsoft Pivot, senior executives are also pushing the ad opportunities on the upcoming Windows Mobile 7.

The potential for big revenue from various forms of in-game advertising is building with the global multi-player online community of Xbox Live players at more than 20 million.

Several years ago Microsoft acquired in-game advertising company Massive, which places ads live into games as consumers play, pumping the promise of a $1bn (£667m) market by 2014. Analysts Yankee Group tone the figure down to about $732m, however the potential is clear and Microsoft believes Kinect can drive ad revenues in the market.

Microsoft announced a deal earlier this week for Chevrolet's electric car the Volt to appear in Kinect-enabled game Joy Ride, which comes out later this year on the Xbox 360.

A deal has also been struck with Burger King in the US for stuffed animals, called Kinectimals, which will be "micro-tagged" and when kids take them home they can digitally "unlock" the animal on their computer.

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Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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