Steve Jobs famously dissed styluses, preferring the body’s own natural equipment: fingers. Soon, Microsoft could be killing the game controller, too … and your TV’s remote control.
Or maybe even your keyboard and mouse.
Microsoft Research is always working on cool new features, and based on a video Microsoft just released, it seems clear that the next version of Kinect will be able to better recognize hands, hand positioning, and hand gestures, effectively letting you control your Xbox — and your PC — with just the equipment god gave you, right out of the box.
Here’s the demo video:
The company has a long ways to go, however, to catch up to Leap Motion.
Leap Motion is essentially a $80 Kinect for your computer, which is 200 times more sensitive than the current Xbox 360’s motion-sensing camera. You can use it to control virtually anything you might want to on your computers, and Leap Motion’s tiny sensor is amazingly precise. It tracks both hands and all 10 fingers at 290 frames per second, detecting movements as small as 1/100 of a millimeter.
We have no idea that the prototype Xbox controller is that precise: The video does not show individual finger control, and the screen shows 30 frames per second. (Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t have greater capability — Microsoft is certainly keeping some secrets.) But the Xbox is designed as a living room system, so it will likely have a much wider field of sensitivity and a much greater capability to recognize multiple people and multiple hands.
And note that the video says this is Kinect for Windows. Right now, that’s aimed at commercial markets such as in-store demoing solutions. But that’s just a tiny little sideways shuffle from being available for the PC in your kitchen, which you could then control from anywhere, no matter if your hands are full, or clean.
Really, the video hints at the future: Controllers for everything, in the air, hardware-free.
That’s amazing, and it’s no longer science fiction or a Tom Cruise movie.
Hat tip: Engadget