Microsoft is leading the way in the technological future with its release of the Kinect controller for PC. This move will allow non-touch gesture control to become mainstream. With its commercial success on the Xbox console, Kinect has grown widely popular and now its SDK (software development kit) will facilitate new ways of interacting on desktop PCs.
Many improvements have been made to this new version of Kinect such as improved skeletal tracking and speech recognition accuracy, API updates, audio fixes, support for up to four sensors per computer and Near Mode to enable the depth camera. The retail price is currently set at $250 with a special academic price of $150 for qualified educational users.
The hope is that this new technology for motion-control tools will eventually lead the way in medical training, automated robotics, and teleconferencing. Gesture-controlled systems could improve access to online services, education, and communication. Anoop Gupta, a distinguished scientist with Microsoft Research explained, “The technology disappears and we can be who we are. Computers can become our assistants and helpers, rather than just tools.”
Although this isn’t the first gesture system created, Kinect will be remembered as the commercial break through that set the expectations for competition. Hopefully, improvements in speech recognition, touch computing and computer vision will create a change in the way we view human and computer interaction and make it more natural and inclusive.