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Microsoft has significantly upgraded the sensing capabilities of the second-generation Kinect sensor that will ship with the newly announced Xbox One game console. One example: The Kinect can detect a user’s heart rate optically.

See the video above for a demonstration of the capability during a tour of the Microsoft Xbox campus today. The idea is to incorporate this functionality into exercise programs, as a start, but there are no doubt other applications, as well, and it’s also a sign of just how far the Kinect has come. The feature uses RGB and IR feeds to work.

The new Kinect will ship with every Xbox One later this year. Microsoft hasn’t yet disclosed pricing for the console.

Apart from that, the Kinect has also improved how it senses people and objects in a room. Todd Holmdahl, the Microsoft vice president in charge of Xbox hardware, said the new Kinect capabilities include the ability to send out photons that hit a person and bounce back, allowing the sensor chip to detect objects with much greater accuracy.

Microsoft engineers say another advantage of the new console is that it offers dedicated processing for audio analysis of voice commands via the Kinect.

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