Backtracking on their “hack the Kinect and we’ll prosecute” stance was the smartest thing Microsoft’s done in a long time.
Multinational corporations that fear manipulation of their carefully crafted devices come across like old people who wrap their sofas and remote controls in cellophane (Apple just has better branding). At the end of the day, the Kinect is a technologically impressive device that, if Microsoft lets the momentum ride, could have a significant impact on the future of user interface.
Microsoft’s decision to now be “excited” by the community’s interest in their toy will likely do more to advance the innovation of their own creation than they ever could. Forget sitting in a boardroom trying to figure out what people want from a motion-driven device — let them play with it and tell you.
It’s like market research, except the market is researching for you at the same time.
So here’s my thing: what are people actually doing with it?
Everyone’s been watching the guy who used a PC emulator to play the original Super Mario Bros using body motion control. Pretty cool. And there’s also a fellow who turned his Kinect set up into a digital puppet controller. Probably tougher than it looks and definitely impressive.
Still… I mean, these are great and all, but I’m looking for that breakthrough use. That thing where everyone goes “ah ha — this is where it goes next.”
The most exciting development to me so far? Finger tip recognition with multi-touch interaction and navigation. Researchers at MIT have basically made Minority Report a reality:
There are others who’ve done a variation, but this example was easily the most impressive. The ability to recognize and interpret individual finger motions is, technologically speaking, nuts. Touchscreen technology always seemed like a matter of time, but multitouching the air always seemed like the future. Still does, really.
Now where are my moving sidewalks?