Netflix Kinect: Control movies with your hands

If you've always wanted to watch movies by waving your hands around like a madman, today is your lucky day.

If you've always wanted to watch movies by waving your hands around like a madman -- well, my friend, today is your lucky day.

Microsoft has just pushed out an Xbox 360 update that brings Kinect support to the system's Netflix interface. The update should automatically pop up the next time you open Netflix on your Xbox 360 device.

So what can you do with this futuristic Netflix-Kinect setup in your life? Why, you can browse through suggested movies by moving your hand here and there. You can play or pause by waving your appendage the right way. You can even fast-forward by flicking your fingers in a fancy figure. Just don't start doing the Hokey Pokey by mistake; there's no telling what that might cause your Xbox to do.

The Netflix-Kinect concept is certainly novel, if a bit gimmicky (I mean, really -- is it any easier to pause a movie by flailing your arm than by pressing a button on a remote?). The part of the Kinect upgrade that could actually be useful is the voice-control component: Simply say "Xbox" and a command, and the pint-sized genie who lives inside your console will scurry around to get the job done. Need to run to the restroom in the middle of Dirty Harry? Shout out "Xbox, pause," and your film will freeze. Not too shabby.

Unfortunately, the voice commands are limited to basic video playback; saying "Xbox, bring me some Milk Duds," for example, doesn't seem to work (though it does effectively elicit glares from female companions).

But hey, we can't get too greedy. It was mere months ago, after all, that thrashing your limbs and yelling odd phrases would have earned you a night in the loony bin. Now it gets you a Weekend at Bernie's, streamed straight into your living room.

God bless technology.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of geek-humor site eSarcasm. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.

This story, "Netflix Kinect: Control movies with your hands" was originally published by PCWorld.

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