It should come as no surprise that with the way tablets have been
dominating the computer market, traditional PCs are suffering. Really,
it's kind of been happening for a while, particularly now that mobile
computing is beginning to catch up to desktop computing in the one area
desktops have always dominated: power. Fact is, the traditional desktop
just doesn't carry as much clout as it used to, and people know it.
Many are wracking their brains, asking "how can we revitalize the
floundering PC market?
Microsoft thinks it might have the answer.
Just as tablets are all the rage in the computer market, motion control is all the rage in gaming. Kinect is Microsoft's answer to the craze; their proprietary motion control technology. Microsoft boasts about "full body motion control" and "voice control" on their website.
Like a lot of motion control devices, Kinect is something of a technological chimera. If you want the simple explanation, Microsoft's Kinect contains an advanced camera which tracks movement in three dimensions, facial recognition software, gesture control software, and voice control software. It can accept input from up to six people. (Wikipedia)
Oh, and here's a fun fact: Microsoft's Kinect peripheral set a world record as the fastest selling gadget of all time. On top of that, most reviewers I've seen have only good things to say about the product. Plus, it's not exactly an ugly duckling either. It's kind of nice to look at.
All in all, it's a pretty neat piece of technology.
Kinect With Your Computer
On Monday, Microsoft made the announcement that it will be releasing tech allowing developers to create apps for Kinect that will run on Windows based PCs. Therein lies the beauty of Microsoft's video game technology. A lot of it is designed in such a way that all you need to hook it up to a computer is the proper software. But what does Microsoft hope to accomplish by doing this?
I mean, gesture control computing's been done before, right? Then again, Evoluce's displays, while awesome and beautiful aren't exactly...affordable. The high cost rather severely limits the availability of the product. Microsoft knows that, and that's likely a large part of the reason they're unleashing their gadget on the world of personal computing.
"We believe that Kinect can be more than just a
great platform for gaming and entertainment," one Microsoft rep said. "It opens up enormous opportunities that span everything from
delivering new personal experiences to addressing societal challenges
in the fields of healthcare and education...We believe the combined creativity of Microsoft
and the academic research and enthusiast communities will lead to new
experiences that will transform our relationship with computers," (Information Week)
I think they're on to something here. If this tech takes off, it could actually end up revolutionizing how we interact with our computers. Beyond that, it could prove to be a boon for industries the world over. Right off the top of my head, I can think of at least thirty different jobs that could use something like this. Plus, the fact that it'll be available specifically on Windows based PCs could represent a bit of a blow to their major competitor, Apple.
Not that Apple's going to take such a thing lying down. It might not be long before we see them release a gesture control device of their own, depending how well Kinect for the PC hits it off with the consumer market. That's the best thing about the computer industry- when the corporations involved try continually to outdo each other, it's the consumers that come out victorious.
Now, granted, there will likely be some lag between the software's release and the release of any commercial or groundbreaking apps. But that's to be expected. The devs need time to work, after all. And like with any new tech, there's a chance that Microsoft's idea might flop and flounder. But I doubt it will. I'd say it's a safe bet that Microsoft's working on a few apps of their own- perhaps a Kinect-compatible version of Windows 7?
The Software Developer's Kit will be available for devs some time in the next few weeks. I'm rather looking foward to seeing what they do with it.
(Source: Information Week)