Back in December, a jolly man in a red suit delivered the XBox 360 with Kinect to my children. The motion sensor accessory quickly became the center of fun in my household. If you didn’t know what the Kinect was, you might be confused looking into the TV room from the kitchen and seeing children randomly jumping up and down and dancing in front of the TV. Bizarre as it might look to a by-stander, getting in front of the Kinect is a really cool experience.
I’m not much of a gamer myself. But as a technologist, the Kinect fascinates me. Especially for its NON-gaming functionality! When the kids were not around, dad was having fun using the Kinect to navigate Netflix, ESPN, Zune, and Hulu from the sofa with his hands without a remote control. This actually worked!
Better yet, the Kinect has voice recognition support which lets you navigate all of this too. How cool is that?! Perhaps one day, we’ll all be like Scotty trying to use a keyboard. How quaint!
I’ll be the first to admit that clicking with the remote can be faster than speaking to the TV or waving your hands. However, as anyone with (or even without kids) can testify, remote controls like to disappear and get lost deep under the cushions or elsewhere. This usually happens at the most opportune times… like when the doorbell rings.
You end up flipping all the couch pillows onto the dirty floor, knocking the magazines off the coffee table, and spilling your drink in a mad frenzy looking for the remote to pause the movie or mute the sound so you can get to the door.
By the time you find it and answer the door, your visitor looks over your shoulder with a smirk and says, “I see you’ve been keeping the place up.”
With the Kinect, all you’d have to do is quickly say, “XBox Pause” and answer the door. Then your visitor would see the neat hi-tech entertainment cave over your shoulder instead of a scene directly out of Animal House.
Dancing to Pitbull & Cascada or slashing bad droids up with a light saber are ‘meh’ to me. But it’s these non-gaming aspects of the Kinect that really excite me. I’m not alone in that excitement. Not long after the Kinect came out, a community of folks figured out how to reverse engineer it and produce a set of libraries to enable the Kinect to be used with Windows, Linux, and Mac. Then, back in April at the Mix 10 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced that there would be an official SDK for the Kinect!
The Kinect for Windows SDK was released back in June 2011. Documentation was spotty, and some might have referred to it as an “alpha”. But, just this past week, a refresh of the Kinect beta was published. The documentation has been greatly improved, and the team provided a roadmap for a commercial release of this SDK.
With the Kinect for Windows SDK, YOU can build games and apps that make use of the Kinect sensor and its voice recognition capabilities! The possibilities here seem endless. I can’t wait to see what developers come up with. Get the bits here…
Once you have the bits…
Some day, the mouse and keyboard will be… quaint. Beam me up!