Microsoft could make a Wii Music-like experience for the Xbox 360, thanks to its Kinect motion sensor.

The company recently filed a patent application for a gesture-based MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller. The “free-space gesture controller or control system” in the patent application names Kinect as an example.


The application describes the following:

The free-space gesture MIDI controller technique described herein marries the technologies embodied in a free-space gesture controller with MIDI controller technology, allowing a user to control an infinite variety of electronic musical instruments through body gesture and pose. One embodiment of the free-space gesture MIDI controller technique described herein uses a human body gesture recognition capability of a free-space gesture control system and translates human gestures into musical actions. Rather than directly connecting a specific musical instrument to the free-space gesture controller, the technique generalizes its capability and instead outputs standard MIDI signals, thereby allowing the free-space gesture control system to control any MIDI-capable instrument.

It explains use with the Xbox 360 as well:

[0020] One such free-space gesture controller or control system that can be employed with the technique has a depth camera that helps to interpret a scene playing out in front of it. Together with software running on a computing device (e.g., such as, for example, a gaming console such as, for example, Microsoft.RTM. Corporation’s Xbox 360.RTM.), the free-space gesture control system can interpret the scene captured by the depth camera to determine and recognize specific gestures being made by the human in front of the device. These gestures can be mapped to specific meanings to corresponding notes, chords, sequences, transport controls, and the like.

The application explains that the mapped control signals could also be used to control MIDI-capable electronic instruments; this could include standard synthesizers and drum machines. Microsoft does have a Kinect MIDI controller available for download, but’s they haven’t used it in a game.

Here’s a video example with a popular digital audio workstation (DAW) called Fruityloops:

Another example could be similar to this Air Guitar Kinect hack:

It’s not likely to be practical for use in professional music composition with a DAW (despite what the video above shows), but it could easily make for an entertaining family game or app in Kinect Fun Labs. Here’s to hoping for Kinect Theremin.

[via Free Patents Online]