Microsoft you suck!
I knew that would get your attention. Microsoft-haters are reading this because, well, anything bashing the software giant is entertaining. Microsoft-lovers are interested in this because they want to help with damage-control surrounding Microsoft.
Now that you’ve started reading this, you’re mine now! I’ll just lift up my mask and say this isn’t about how Microsoft sucks, but how they are changing the future … for better or for worse … we’ll just have to find out and see.
By now you’ve heard about Kinect, an Xbox add-on device that allows people to “be the controller” while playing games. Very similar to Nintendo’s Wii, except, for 2 major distinctions:
- No controller. The Kinect system is able to read people in 3D space and reflect their movements on the screen.
- Audio mic that separates a person’s voice from the environment.
When the Nintendo Wii came out, it revolutionized the gaming industry in that it helped to bridge the gap with non-gamers and those that play regularly. I have to admit, I was very impressed with the system, even though I’ve never actually played with anyone’s Wii (oh Nintendo, where do you come up with these names?). But as innovative as the system was, it wasn’t enough to entice me to buy one, and this is coming from someone who has purchased every other past Nintendo system from the NES to the GameCube.
Lest you think this is about gaming systems, let me get to the point. The Kinect is going to change the way we interact with technology and how we perform everyday tasks. Maybe not Kinect specifically, but the tech behind it will become a part of our lives some day. The Wii innovated gaming, but Kinect has the potential to work in broader areas. There are already examples of this. For instance:
“A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota has announced that it has found a novel new way of using the Kinect motion-tracking system from Microsoft to measure a range of disorder symptoms in children, creating a more objective way of evaluating them in order to detect problems like autism, attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.”
“The flood of inventive Kinect hacks keeps on coming - with the latest one possibly being the most impressive, as it turns out you can use the Kinect to control an actual, real-life robot.”
“Kinect hacks let you control a web browser and Windows 7 using only The Force”
These are but a few examples of what researchers are doing out there with Kinect. I’ve seen a team attach a Kinect to a lazy-boy chair on wheels and controlling it using only their hands in open space. Speaking of driving … your car most likely has cruise control … but does it have auto pilot? Imagine putting special stickers on the road that is read by a Kinect sensor that is attached to your car. Now imagine your car driving itself to a location based on the coordinates you enter into it. If Back to the Future 2 taught us anything, we’ll be driving flying cars in 4 years, so why not auto-driven cars in a few? One can dream …
The area I’m most interested in right now is the medical field, for several reasons that I won’t get into here. And now that Microsoft has released an official SDK for Kinect, I’m excited to be able to start prototyping applications at Awaken for industry use. Being on the forefront of this new frontier is exciting don’t you think?
There will always be complaints out there about Microsoft and how they conduct business. A lot of it is fanboy-ism, but there are some legit complaints that I agree with. However, you have to credit Microsoft for their approach to innovative technology, and how that technology is helping the world, unlike some ‘i’ centered companies out there.
Posted by: Dan Miller