The promise of Microsoft’s Kinect was never simply to allow us to play games sans peripherals, but that one day an entirely new peripheral-free language would arise between us and our machines (many writers might pause here to mention the film Minority Report, but we’re going to refrain). We’re not all the way there yet, but a San Francisco startup is making a sub-$100 attempt at throwing open the door.
There are five Microsoft Kinects set up all around the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development, but they're not for playing games (or any of the other stuff the Kinect can do with an Xbox). They're monitoring the students, looking for signs of unusual behavior that might indicate a potential autism spectrum disorder.
WIth the Kinect, Microsoft opened up the world of gestural controls to the masses, allowing users to manipulate video games and otherwise control their devices with simple motion controls. Now Microsoft Research is doing it again, this time using inaudible sound waves to create the same kind of gestural interface, no cameras necessary.
A new Kinect-driven device can follow the creepy, lizardy flicking motion of a person’s tongue moving from side to side, and translate the movement into a video game. The tongue is the gun, as it were, and you can shoot circular objects on the screen like some trippy version of Asteroids. The bullet’s trajectory is determined by the position of the tongue.
One of the smaller rumors going around about today's Apple event predicts that Apple will release a new version of its little black set-top box, Apple TV. A sub-rumor suggests that this Apple TV might incorporate Siri, Apple's voice-command Lady of Wonder. Siri on Apple TV could legitimately be the first alternative way to control your TV that isn't actually worse than a black plastic stick with buttons on it.
One of the most fun Kinect hacks we’ve seen in a while gives the idea of motion capture a whole new meaning. Behold the Board of Awesomeness, an all-terrain motorized longboard wired to a Kinect and a Samsung tablet running Windows 8. To roll ahead, the rider simply pushes his hand forward.
The last time I wrote about the Kinect in any kind of big-picture way, I was complaining about how this gadget, one of the most amazing, futuristic devices we've ever seen, sits in my living room, covered in dust. It's capable of so much, and hardly did anything, I said.
Today, a new update to the Xbox 360 includes a ton of Kinect improvements--and we're that much closer to having the future in our living room.
In November 2010, Microsoft released Kinect, a motion-sensing accessory for its Xbox 360 gaming console. Kinect could measure depth by sending out thousands of small infrared dots to create a 3-D map of a room, and its microphones could pinpoint sound in space. Such hardware would not be confined to gesture-based videogames. Within a few days, engineers strapped the $150 device onto a robot vacuum and wired the machines together to allow the robot to see and hear. For developers and hackers, Kinect’s promise proved irresistible (and affordable): It could give machines sense.
Japanese company NSK has pulled off the mother of all Kinect hacks, and all they had to do was build a fully functioning robotic dog around Microsoft’s gaming peripheral. With help from Tokyo-based University of Electro-Communications, NSK has built a robotic guide dog for the visually impaired that uses a Kinect to evaluate and understand its environment and help its owner safely navigate.
Microsoft's Research department is always coming up with cool new ways to interact with gadgets, and this newly released video of the "Holodesk" is definitely one of the cooler ones. It uses a Kinect ("hacked" doesn't seem really correct when it's a Microsoft project) to see your hands and face, and allows you to juggle completely virtual 3-D objects--balance a virtual ball on a book, then tip it into a bowl of water, or stack virtual 3-D blocks. It's pretty amazing.
Today in "Solutions to Problems Nobody Actually Has," a Lithuanian company called Etronika has created an app for Kinect that allows you to bank without the stress, difficulty, or efficiency of keyboards, mice, or touchscreens. Instead, you gesticulate wildly at your TV to check your balance, pay bills, or send copies of your bills to your phone.
Unless you’re the type to conduct business while conducting ... business, the bathroom is probably the one remaining sanctuary where you’re not flooded with data, in the form of communications, headlines and advertisements. Well, the New York Times considers this an opportunity, rather than an oasis of sanity. Meet the “magic mirror.”
Archaeological digs are a painstaking process even after the earth has been excavated — artifacts must be carefully catalogued so researchers know exactly where they were found, which tells information about their past. On an upcoming dig in Jordan, a modified Kinect could serve as a 3-D scanner, making this process simpler — and decidedly more high-tech.
Today at E3, Microsoft kicked things off with a keynote that was heavily Kinect-focused, as we hoped it'd be. Even better, the keynote addressed lots of the things I whined about in my last Grouse column, especially the need for an app store, better voice control, and more games. Kinect's looking good for the future--here's what's coming up.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.