When Microsoft first debuted Kinect, not that long ago, we really had no clue how far there ambitions stretched in regards to the hands-free technology. It was about gaming in a new and unique way, what else could it do? Then Microsoft started touting the concept of Kinect for Windows, taking the camera system away from the Xbox and giving in improvements like the ability to see close-range.

Multimedia and living room uses were a big part of what this new move meant, but beyond that the folks at Redmond encouraged Kinect developers to think outside the box and use the technology to innovate a variety of different industries such as banking, medical, and everyday home use.

One of these cool ideas that takes advantage of Kinect for Windows is Chaotic Moon Lab’s “Board of Awesomeness”. This unique board combined a motorized skateboard, a Samsung tablet and Microsoft Kinect bringing them together to create a device that can reach a top speed of 32 mph. They can also drive and steer this skateboard using a combination of gestures and voice commands.

Alright, so this was pretty unique but what about taking it a step further? This is where a new grocery cart prototype comes in. Based on Chaotic Moon Lab’s skateboard project, according to an anonymous source, the new cart is called the Smarter Cart and was recently demoed by Microsoft at its Redmond headquarters.

Before Microsoft showed off the device, it had actually got its first test run at a Whole Foods in Austin, Texas. The store allowed the researchers from Chaotic Moon to take the cart for a text experience here. The Smarter Cart features a Windows 8 tablet, UPC scanner, and Kinect. It is design to follow around shoppers and even guide them to the products they are looking for.

Using RFID technology the tablet can even read items of a smart-card shopping list and make recommendation to the user, even offering up recipes and catching purchase mistakes.

While this Kinect implementation seems a bit buggy and incomplete, it is an excellent example of the potential that lies in gesture-based technologies. Personally I think we are only half way there. Likely it will stay that way until much smaller micro-camera solutions so up that can do the same thing without being so obtrusive.

It is only a matter of time before competitors attempt to flood the world with similar Kinect-inspired camera systems and likely spark a new patent war from the folks at Redmond. What do you personally think of Kinect? I am a little mixed. Call me old fashioned, but there are some tasks I want to do hands-on without all the automation.

Of course there is always a little resistance to change when it presents itself. I’m sure more than one person proudly proclaimed, “Why do I need a handheld remote to shut down my TV? I can get up and do it myself!” Do you have a strong opinion one way or another in regards to what Kinect can (or can’t) bring to the table? Share your thoughts below.

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