Today is officially the start of the “Kinect for Windows” commercial program, allowing companies worldwide to get their hands on the Kinect.
From there hopefully they can develop innovative applications that can provide improvement to internal operations and build new customer experiences.
From today on, any business can join up and get involved, adding to the existing list of companies such as United Health Group, Toyota, and Mattel.
The bigger question is this all just a gimmick? Motion-sensing, since the Wii, has often been criticized as a ‘fun but ultimately limited’ experience that is more of a gimmick than a long-term game-changer.
Since the Kinect launched on the Xbox 360, there has been plenty of unit movements for the Xbox, but ultimately the game experience for the Kinect has proven somewhat limited and ‘gimmicky’.
Still, camera technology like Kinect is constantly evolving, and the bigger question is whether or not this revolution will lead to something truly ground breaking.
This evolution has begun slowly with TV manufacturers like Samsung touting new units that use cameras and sensors for ‘motion control’ in lieu of a remote. And now we have Kinect for Windows that is aimed to make big changes on the PC front.
Still, you have to wonder will they really stick long-term or be just a foot-note in history?
I’m not 100% sold yet on the current generation of camera-like motion experiences (like Kinect and Playstation Move), but I do think it is possible they will eventually evolve into something much more complex.
Imagine camera systems that also work with pop-out 3D displays that allow you to virtually turn, hold, and examine a 3D image. This itself would be huge for certain fields like medical and even investigation work.
While I’m again not sold on how practical “Kinect for Windows” will initially prove to be, I do think its a necessary step that can lead to bigger changes.
I also think that touch, voice, and gestures will eventually blur together into an interface that truly rivals the traditional keyboard and mouse. Will it ultimately replace it as well? Possibly.
This huge revolution in interfacing will be a wider process made up of several different puzzle pieces such as Windows 8 and Metro, Kinect, and touch/voice in general. With Windows 8 technologies we are already at least starting to see things come together a little.
The Daily even claims it has seen two prototypes of ASUS Windows 8 laptops with integrated Kinect technology. If true, this is at least proof that Kinect will evolve into something more unique, useful, and innovative. Still, some might wonder what practicality motion gestures would have when you are already within reach of touching a multi-touch display.
I suppose if Kinect became sensitive enough to read finger movements accurately (something you really can’t do with the 360 version), then maybe you’d just push your hand in a certain direction to move a web-page or document up/down/side-to-side. I could see that as useful, also tracking your head movements and adjusting accordingly in virtual-reality programs and games.
Of course there are no pictures to back up the Daily’s claim. Supposedly the units have an array of small sensors stretching over the top of the screen where a webcam would normally be. Also, on the bottom of the display is a set of what appear to be LEDs.
While new input methods like Kinect are still widely unproven, I’m interested to see where they take us and ultimately whether or not they prove a gimmick, or truly a long-term part of a wider revolution in the way we use computers and technology in general.