Microsoft has been busy incorporating new user interface technology into its products for some time, and now scientists at the company’s University of Cambridge lab (along with help from Newcastle University and the University of Crete) have come up with a new gesture recognition device that builds a 3D model of the user’s hand to virtually control electronic devices. Continue reading
Microsoft is an interesting company. For years it backed off the idea of creating its own hardware, seemingly content to provide a dominant operating system and its suite of Office software tools. The first shift in this stance was the Xbox. Wading into the console fray to directly oppose Sony and Nintendo seemed like a bold move, but no one can deny it paid off.
The success of the Xbox was followed by more new hardware in the form of Xbox peripheral, the Kinect. Even if you’ve never visited Engineering on the Edge before, I’d assume you’ve heard of at least a couple different uses for the Kinect that stray far outside the bounds of video games.
I can’t think of any product that gets “hacked” more often than Microsoft’s Kinect. This device, designed for gaming, remember, has been put to so many creative purposes, it’s a little insane. Here are some examples. I bet Google could come up with half a dozen more in the span it takes you to blink.
Ubi Interactive has taken the Kinect and tied it to a projector to create a touchscreen that will work on just about any surface. The projector creates an image and the Kinect measures how you interact with it. Your wall could be your new widescreen monitor.
One of the more interesting developments in motion control is how the Kinect has been used and modified for all manner of non-gaming applications. What might have started out as a way to play soccer in your living room has quickly emerged as a motion detecting, 3D imaging, jack-of-all-trades. The system sold around 8 million units in the first 60 days after launch, and Microsoft is working on a new version.
With the kind of success the Kinect has had, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that other companies have looked at motion control and tried to figure out new ways to improve on the technology. Leap Motion hopes to have succeeded with their upcoming release, the Leap.
The “smart home” has been promised to us for years, mostly through press releases and the occasional TV commercial where someone’s refrigerator calls the repairman before they know there’s a problem, or you can remotely open and close your garage door with a smartphone from miles away.
Unfortunately, all of these efforts have involved a patchwork of communication capabilities from a variety of appliance, electronics, security system, and heating and cooling vendors, none of which can work together. Microsoft thinks it may have an answer with its HomeOS, which could provide centralized control of smart devices.