Microsoft will be releasing their motion-detecting Xbox 360 peripheral in early November. Despite the high price, the device looks like it can be one of the next major steps in near-seamless control methods.
While the idea of controlling a game with your body movements rather than using a button sounds okay (It’s actually kind of laggy for gaming), we think that the real potential of this product lies within its interface control. From there, it can go much further than just the Xbox 360.
The UI possibilities with Kinect bring us back to the days of the original iPhone when many of us thought, “What? No keyboards?”
This time, we are saying, “What? No controller?”
Hit the jump to read about why we think the Kinect seems pretty cool:
1) Menu Navigation – This is by far one of the most interesting ways we can see Kinect being used. Watching a user work their way around the Xbox’s menus is an interesting site. Their hand simply moves around “grabbing” at windows or menu items and pulling them where the user needs. Turning a page is as simple as waving your hand in one direction or the other.
2) It Knows Who You Are – This isn’t as spooky as it may sound, but it’s true. Kinect is designed to recognize faces, body types, movements and voices. Imagine one day coming home to your computer. To wake your computer, you wave your hand in front of it. It welcomes you and launches with your user profile, because it recognized your face. If it has trouble, as it may in the case of identical twins, it may ask you to speak. From there, it will recognize your voice or name and launch with your system settings. Then you can get back to your Minority Report stuff.
3) Voice Commands – The above video shows some of the interface control of Kinect. If you skip to about 1:40, you will see the voice commands at work. The presenter says, “Xbox, Pause,” and his movie pauses. When he says, “Xbox, Play,” the movie continues. The possibilities are endless.
4) Tracking – This was actually very strange to see the first time. Kind of scary actually, because the thing looked like it was falling off the TV set. However, that was not the case. Kinect is simply tracking you so that the camera can see all of your movements. The video above doesn’t show the actual unit moving, but it does show how the camera can track the user while moving around (2:30) This is especially useful for video conferencing like what’s seen above. Imagine having a FaceTime chat with Mom while you are working around the kitchen cooking up a nice dinner. No need to carry a phone or adjust your camera. Oh, the future seems so nice.
5) The Kinect Technology Will Be Coming to Computers As Well – It’s already been reported that the same technology found within Kinect, the 3D camera sensor known as PrimeSense,will be used with computers in the future. It will also be coming to at least one set-top box by summer 2011. This may very well be the future of the user interface. While this tech may just be a small step in that direction, it’s interesting to see how it can be used in various pieces of consumer electronics.
This is Just The Beginning…
Games, computers and set-top boxes are only the beginning for now. We probably haven’t even imagined the next innovative step for this type of technology. Will it be possible to control different areas of our homes or use the same tech in front of our home, or by our car to unlock the door? The thought of coming home and having a camera recognize you as you get to the front door suddenly seems more affordable. You wouldn’t need the key, because the camera would say, “Oh, he lives here,” and the door would unlock.
Maybe we are just dreaming. Still, it would be a very cool home.