Category Archives: Hints & tips

How to make Kinect 99.999% hands-free

Surf the dashboard with your feet instead of your thumbs (via CNET)

When I got a Kinect bundle last Christmas, I was totally new to Xbox 360.  I thought this magical device would make the console completely hands-free (once the disc was inserted, of course).  No more sticky buttons, no more hunting down the hand controller – everything would be done with waves and gestures and occasional shouting.

Well, Kinect doesn’t really work that way.  When the box is first turned on, you have to go through a main menu called the Xbox Dashboard to get to your game, and as of now you can’t control it with Kinect, just the Xbox hand controller.

Or, as I recently discovered, the DDR pad!

Konami DDR pads for Xbox 360 can be had on Amazon for around $25, or you can buy a DDR game/pad bundle for around $40.  But if you’re not really interested in DDR (horrors!) but still want to go hands-free, the mat that comes with High School Musical 3 is very nice AND cheap – the bundle is less than $20, and if Sharpay and friends don’t float your boat, just give away or sell the game and keep the mat.

Then turn on your Xbox 360, plug the mat into one of the USB outlets in the back of the box, wait for the green light to light up on the button on top of the mat (the “guide” button), and voila.  Now you can use the arrows and mat buttons to move around the Dashboard, and when you’re done playing your Kinect game, step on the guide button to get the console menu.  Germophobes rejoice!  The only times your hands touch anything is when you turn the console on or off or when you insert the disc.

Perhaps someday there will be a console that turns itself on and gets itself ready to play when you walk into the room and say “Yo, time for some Dance Central!”  Until then, the dance mat can be used for more than just dancing.

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