Microsoft has something concrete to celebrate, which is the success of Kinect. But as well-received as its motion-control technology has been to this point, the future looks even brighter.
Microsoft doesn’t have too many big victories to celebrate these days. Windows 7 is a hit, sure, but that’s an operating system based on a framework created many years ago. The Xbox 360 is a hit as well but not exactly a big money-spinner. And then there is Windows Phone 7, Zune, the Kin phones, etc. Which aren’t exactly glowing examples of Microsoft brilliance.
However, one huge win for Microsoft is Kinect, which looks set to be expanded far beyond its gaming roots to pretty much all facets of Microsoft’s business. And in what represents a marked change from the norm for Microsoft, the company is actually embracing unofficial uses of its system.
Kinect was released for the Xbox 360 as a Wii-style motion-control system for gaming late last year, and was an immediate hit. Millions of Xbox 360 owners have now bought the camera-based add-on and are using it to enjoy manipulating games without the need for any controller.
Upon release Kinect was hacked and some creative souls started tinkering with the system to create other uses for it. Microsoft at first balked at this but quickly changed tack and embraced the possibilities for the future this kind of amateur programming could create.
TechFlash recently spent a day on the Redmond campus being shown some of the new projects in development around Kinect. These include Mirage Blocks, which sees 3D images of objects being created and manipulated via motion control, and an unnamed effort which sees a 3D representation of a room displayed on a TV screen being viewed from different angles by use of motion control.
The Next Web also recently noted multiple examples of the Kinect technology being used by musicians, including a genius air guitar prototype that could be brilliant with a little more work.
It’s clear that Kinect is going to be a key component of various Microsoft products over the next few years, and the company can see that motion control is going to become an increasingly popular and important part of the way we interact with both technology and the world around us. If Microsoft can be the conduit then new opportunities await.