Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360 Teams With Disney for Fun, Sesame Workshop for Learning Products

Courtesy of Sesame Street

The company wants to redefine learning with interactive TV, book and games offers that allow users to interact with the likes of Grover and Cookie Monster and let kids play with characters from "The Incredibles," "Toy Story 3" and "Cars 2."

NEW YORK - Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360 said Tuesday that it is partnering with Sesame Street creator Sesame Workshop and National Geographic to launch playful learning experiences for kids via interactive TV, games and interactive book offers. Plus, it is partnering with Walt Disney/Pixar for a new game that will allow kids and their families to immerse themselves in their favorite films by teaming up with animated movie characters.

Initial learning products will include Kinect Sesame Street TV, Kinect Nat Geo TV and a book product that is code-named Project Columbia, Microsoft said. With the help of the Kinect full-body motion controller and voice recognition, kids will be able to help such Sesame Street characters as Elmo, Grover and Cookie Monster with tasks on Sesame Street, such as collecting and counting coconuts, and explore nature with Nat Geo Wild TV from the perspective of animals.

All the kids games and offers "seek to inspire kids and their parents to get off the couch and into the action, working cooperatively with their favorite characters to have fun and learn at the same time," Microsoft said.

Kids will also be able to jump into stories and explore and learn next to their favorite entertainment characters in a new game code-named Rush that is being developed under an extended Disney partnership for a spring release. Following the debut of Kinect: Disneyland Adventures this November, Rush will allow kids to scan themselves into five Pixar worlds to team up with their favorite characters from The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 in a race against time to solve challenges.

It demonstrated the products at a press event in New York Tuesday afternoon. Financial details of the deals with the media and entertainment companies weren't disclosed.

“With the controller-free magic of Kinect, we can encourage kids to use their motor skills and to learn using their body in immersive experiences," said Alex Games, curriculum and learning sciences expert and educational design director for Microsoft. "This new way to play allows children to learn by interacting with their favorite characters and engage with content in novel ways.”

Under its partnership with Sesame Workshop, Xbox 360 is filming interactive versions of current season episodes with the company. Kinect Sesame Street TV will also include new content written and filmed just for Kinect plus provide access to classic clips from the Sesame Street archive.
“This new media experience allows for meaningful learning - leveraging kids’ gross motor abilities by creating exciting, gesture-based movements that allow them to connect with our characters and content,” said Rosemarie Truglio, vp education and research, Sesame Workshop. For decades, the show has been a passive experience, but now kids "can have a true interactive experience" as the partners look "to reimagine television."

Nat Geo Wild is also an ideal partner for Kinect, "turning passive television viewing into a creative, immersive experience where kids and families can actually interact with our unique content,” said Brad Dancer, senior vp of digital media and research, National Geographic Channels.

Nat Geo Wild host Casey Anderson said at the New York event that he expects the new Kinect offer to draw audiences into TV content even more. In a demo for a game challenge called Expedition Grizzly, a young girl joined him in collecting food like a bear.


Twitter: @georgszalai