Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

Summary: Microsoft launched its Xbox Kinect, a gaming unit sans controllers, and this pup goes on sale Nov. 4. Here's a look at six potential business use cases.


Microsoft launched its Xbox Kinect, a gaming unit sans controllers, and this pup goes on sale Nov. 4. Will this technology make it to the business world and how would it be used?

This Kinect technology, which allows you to use gestures to play games instead of a touch pad, joystick or wand, has been billed as one of Microsoft's most important launches.

Mary Jo Foley pondered gesture-based business applications, but many of us were a touch stumped about the use cases. With that in mind, here are five potential uses and we'll be happy to take write in candidates.

Images: Project Natal becomes Kinect for Xbox 360 PowerPoint presentations with more oomph. What would make PowerPoint slides more interesting? How about a "wax on, wax off" Karate Kid (the first one) hand wave? Just imagine the fun gesture things you could do to move along a slide show. If you were buff, say like a gymnast, you could do all sorts of interesting things to move a presentation along. Of course, your antics may distract from your beautiful slides, but most of us wouldn't pay attention anyway.

Teleconferencing. More intuitive video conferencing---telepresence anyone? Microsoft said Video Kinect will be more intuitive and track your movements and adjust automatically. In other words you can walk around without leaving the camera. You can seem Microsoft building this feature into Office at some point.

Vertical industry uses. In the healthcare industry, you can envision a doctor gesturing to go through a series of X-rays. You could also do this approach with touch, but Kinect for business could eliminate the need to carry a tablet around.

Employee training. In a factory---or any other environment where change management is critical---you can envision Kinect being used for simulations of specific tasks in a nuclear reactor, assembly line or anyplace else.

Modeling in creative industries. An architect could use Kinect to spin virtual models and manipulate them with his hands.

Better security. Xbox Kinect is supposed to recognize you and your gestures. Apply this technology to your laptop or PC and the security implications become clear. Kinect could eliminate passwords. One downside: You could get a black eye and break an arm playing rugby and your PC may not know you since a) your face will be a mess and b) you'll be left to gesture with one arm.

There are probably a few more use cases we're forgetting, but don't be surprised if Microsoft doesn't try and take parts of Kinect to the enterprise in the future.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility

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  • Put this in a notebook or a tablet

    And you'll have a 3D "no-touch" interface. No fingerprints! Imagine the gestures, how this will (re)enable hover feedback (which is lost with iPad), how drag-n-drop will become almost tangible.<br><br>Getting weary from trying to hold the iPad upright in your lap? No need, use a proper tablet, place it wherever you want to just flip your hand.

    Presentations? Animations are great for pepping up a demonstration. Imagine, instead of animations, the objects on the screen are "actors" which is moved by the presenter and react when connected. Animations taken to the next level with a minimum of effort. Imagine the presenter "jumping into" the presentation and start manipulating the objects.
  • How can you forget...

    Solving murders that haven't happened yet? Bonus points for not needing a glove!

    • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

      @voyager529 I always said when I saw that movie (Minority Report) - if that's what I have to go through just to use a computer - count me out. Tom Cruise looked like an idiot, waving and gesturing like he was on crack cocaine. I prefer Star Trek style voice command.

      This tech does have possibilities, but people won't want to make an absolute ass of themselves, just to show some powerpoint slides.
      • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

        @sechoinard go watch Iron Man 2 and tell us again that you don't want a Minority Report system, technology has advanced in the movies too, you no longer have to wear a "power glove" (copyright by nintendo!) although (I forgot the name) someone just released a new power glove back in March.April that looked sweet, it worked on touch between your fingers, each finger had 3 or 4 sensors (except the pinkie had 2) and which sensor you used on your thumb to touch which sensor on the other fingers all do something different, if is very close to Minority Report with out the sweet display.

        Again, go watch Iron Man 2 and come back and say you don't want that computer system (personally the computer system was the only part of Iron Man 2 that made it worth watching, I thought the movie itself was really horrible)
  • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

    Cyber sex is about to get a lot more interesting.
    Loverock Davidson
    • LMAO

      @Loverock Davidson
      That was my first thought when I read about the Video Tracking yesterday. I wonder how many professional web cam girls are going to be buying an XBox 360 and a Kinect? "Sorry honey, If you want the enhanced motion experience you have to have Windows Live Messenger or XBox Live".
      Also Could this be the start of a new sex game industry? You know what porn did for the VHS!
      • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

        @AboveAverageJoe Well that was my first thought too. I figured it would be so obvious that I wouldn't have to put it into the vertical applications dept.
        Larry Dignan
  • I see what you did there!

    This is exactly what was needed in the enterprise, employees doing karate chops at their desk. What a joke!
  • Unlike you pervs I thought of sports

    What a great indoor baseball aid, barking "get your glove down!". Tennis, for practicing your swing. Anything that can be practiced within a 10ft range. Golf swing of course!
  • Agreed

    I actually could see the business uses more realistically than the gaming usage - presentation would rock with this, I was hoping they would make a minority report style interface for it to be used on computers. lol
  • Bill Gates

    Gates already said it was coming in the next version of Windows.
  • "If you can catch fly with chopsticks... can do anything!"

    But seriously, this might actually slow people down. I mean, Jackie Chan, Steven Segal, Chuck Norris - they'd all have to attenuate themselves in order to do anything with this tech. They're faster than tracking, even when they pull their punches!

    Ok, now I'll be serious. Properly done, this could be an exceptional office environment enhancement. Talk about taking "telecommuting" or "home office" to the next level! Need to talk to the boss? Go to his V-world (re: Caprica) office and have a "face to face" instead of looking at a screen. (If 3d immersive tech allows it.)

    However, I see a VAST First Person Shooter and other FPx games emerging from this and subsequent tech.
  • You have to start somewhere

    and while this first step requires gross gestures I can envision were simple facial gestures and expressions become the norm.
  • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

    How about:

    + Robotic vision
    + 3D digitization
    + Automotive applications such as determining how close you are to other vehicles or obsticals, or recognising the location and state of occupants
    + Control of avatars or other for games, or special effects for home or commercial movies
    + Motion capture
    + 3D CAD interface
    + TV newsrooms where being flashy is more important than reporting quality news.

    I am very glad to see that Microsoft is looking outside of just the X-BOX for this, because I think the applications for this kind of technology can be huge, if it is done right and is easy enough to integrate.

    As far as being a mouse replacement or similar on my desktop - I doubt it, though perhaps it might be something nice to augment a few applications. In general, I would rather move my mouse 2 inches than my hand 20 inches. However, for some kinds of games, and perhaps for public kiosks and such, I can see it being pretty cool. There is definitely a lot of potential for this device and others like it such as HIVE (, multitouch, WII, etc., and perhaps blended solutions like multitouch+Natal+3D monitors might really be cool.
    • Automotive applications....

      [pre]+ Automotive applications such as determining how close you are to other vehicles or obsticals...[/pre]

      You're better to use low-powered radar or multiple sources of infrared laser light, as these wouldn't be affected by glare from overhead street lamps, rain, and headlights of other vehicles - and this technology already exists.
    • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

      @zingozax go watch the Movie "Gamer"
    • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

      Surely the tech that allows your cursor 20 inches across your screen when your mouse moves 2 inches can be adapted to hand gestures as well?
  • Is music business?

    I can see a whole new class of musical instruments. Think theramin. Make a wave and transmit a midi signal to your DAW to change instruments on the fly. There is already something like this in Roland's VG-99. Or virtual drums. The drummer's hand position determines which drum. DJ's could use a wave to scratch. How about a combination of dance and instruments, so the dancer's movement triggers a sound.
  • Inadvertant moves...

    defense computer: What would you like to do?

    user (soldier 1) - just about to make a gesture to do some innocuous task...

    Soldier 2: Hey! Where's the restroom?

    User (Soldier 1): It's over there (pointing at the same time)

    defense computer: Missile launch confirmed...
    • RE: Microsoft's Xbox Kinect: Pondering 6 business uses

      I was thinking with the nuclear reactor thing, what happens when it goes critical and the XBox gets it's RROD at the same time?