Hopefully you have heard of the Kinect for Xbox 360 by now. Perhaps you even have one. Millions of them have been sold and it has really started to change how we think about games and even dealing with the computer. It reads your body language, recognizes faces, and hears your voice. So far it has just been available to game developers though. See I keep telling people that games drive the state of the art in computer science! Well access to the Kinect device is going to open up quite a bit soon. Yes, I know there are some hacks out there that connect the Kinect to PCs but now Microsoft is planning on a Kinect SDK (software development kit) for academic and hobbyist use. (Academics, Enthusiasts to Get Kinect SDK) Yep students are a key market. That and HCI (human computer interface) researchers. What does it mean in the long run? Well the New York Times asks Microsoft’s Kinect: The New Mouse? (free registration may be required)
What does this mean for students and teachers? For me it means a chance to get in on the ground floor of natural user interface programming (NUI). It means more than just fun and games but the start of a whole new way of interacting with computers. Honestly I have no idea what people, especially young people, will come up with but I know I can’t wait to see. The Kinect SDK is not available yet – it is coming this spring (what ever that means). But once it is available you can bet I’ll be talking more about it. And trying my own projects as well. In the mean time, start thinking about what you do would want a computer that reads your body and not just keyboard and mice movements.
BTW I posted a bunch of links about how Kinect works on my blog back in December. Also, you can listen to a podcast of me talking about how the Kinect works by visiting http://www.mos.org/events_activities/podcasts&d=4858 I recorded that interview at Boston's Museum of Scence in February 2011. I also talk a little about what I do at Microsoft.