Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

Summary: If Kinect really does taking motion sensing to a new level, Microsoft could reinvent TV in a way that Google or Apple hasn't been able to.


Microsoft has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years - from myself included - for being late to the game in mobile phones and pretty much staying away from the party when it came to tablets.

But if the latest rumors are to be believed, Microsoft may be the one to get the TV experience right. The XBox Kinect could be Microsoft's answer to hold the keys to living room computing.

Image Credit: CNET

Image Credit: CNET

Not quite a year ago, I blasted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a no-news opening keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show. At the time, I pointed out that the only thing that the company seemed to be getting right was Kinect, the motion-sensing technology that raised the bar in gaming on the XBox.

A report on a European gaming site suggested that the next-generation Kinect would be so powerful that games will be able to read lips and track the pitch and volume of voices, as well as facial expressions, to measure emotional states and detect when players get angry.

Admittedly, that kind of creeped me out. I mean, what's next? A Kinect that can read my thoughts? But that's when it started to sink in. Once I got past the creepiness of the Kinect's eyes watching my every movement to learn more about me, I realized that this could be the key to delivering next-generation television in a way that Google and Apple still have been unable to do.

Will the TV experience of the future know when I'm in a mood for some good comedy based on an upbeat tone in my voice and a smile on my face? Maybe it will know when I'm getting bored with a slow-moving football game by the way my eyes wander and offer up a sitcom or maybe even a few YouTube clips instead.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Do you want a Microsoft Kinect built into your TV?

Of course, I'm speculating about all of this. The Kinect 2 "news" was just a rumor and Microsoft isn't confirming anything. But given the breakthroughs in motion-sensing technology and even some call-center technology that senses when my voice gets louder and more tense, it's easy to let the imagination wander and think about what Microsoft could do with this technology.

I have been a fan of the Google TV concept in the past - but have argued that that blasted computer keyboard has no business in the living room. Nearly a decade ago, I saw one of Microsoft's first demos of a PC-connected TV and aside from being a PC tower in an entertainment center, one of its biggest downfalls was the mouse and keyboard.

Wouldn't that be something if Microsoft was to retake the lead in the next wave of consumer "computing" by reinventing the living room TV experience? Seeing how Apple and Google still haven't gotten the formula right, there's still time for Microsoft to come in and redeem itself, taking the lead in an evolving technology after so many years of getting it wrong.

Suddenly, I'm wondering what Ballmer will have to offer during his CES kickoff keynote.


Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Google, CES, PCs, Windows

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  • RE: Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

    I'll agree that Kinect is a product that MS definitely got right (on top of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango). When it comes to the living room experience they're still on top with Xbox 360 + Kinect.
    • No, it will be not the future: 'Gorilla arm' syndrome will never cease to

      @smulji ... exist.<br><br>Despite controlling devices other than a PC with Kinect is much better than using hands for vertical screen UI of PCs, it would still require waving too much.<br><br>People will never talk that much to their furniture or whatever other things as stupid Holliwood films or high-tech demonstration/promotional futuristic videos suggest. AI assistant in an iPhone is one thing, but all the rest crazy stuff is mostly crazy. People will not survive voicing every little thing as futurists guess.<br><br>The same is with waving hands in the front of TV. It is dead end failure.
      • MStard troll? Good luck with that since I am not going to feed you with any

        @omdguy: serious reply.
  • RE: Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

    Im glad someone finally pointed this out. I was wondering how long you "pro" journalist were going to keep talking about Google tv and Apple tv and completely ignore the fact that Microsoft IS launching a Kinect based tv system in a week from today! Microsoft has just as much promise in controlling the living room if not more than any of these other players. Hmmm, could it be bias???????
    • Bias, no...

      When you look at Microsoft's track record outside the enterprise and the desktop OS, it isn't stellar. The X-Box is really the only success they've had. In fact, they've managed coin an industry phrase for declaring something a monumental failure, ie "Kin'ed". Does Microsoft have a chance in this market? Sure. Is it as much or more than anyone else? No.
      • RE: Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

        Really the Kin was hyped and marketed with all of Microsofts muscle? Haven't heard that "kin'd" phrase yet, but most people I know don't have a clue what the Kin was. I think really only people that read tech blogs like us knew what it was. You are right about their track record, but hopefully they have learned from their mistakes and the past 2 years has shown some promise in their ability to deliver and deliver something that people want.
      • RE: Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

        Yeah I never heard that phrase in my life. Also, to clarify the Xbox360 with Kinect is getting a TV option on the dashboard next week.That is what I meant by Kinect based tv system. Xbox is a well known brand in the living room that really is not associated with Microsofts others brands in the eyes of the consumer. That's launching THIS year. With a interface so crazy it just might work, or at least the guy who wrote the article seems to agree. So= as much or more than anyone else.
  • Not in my living room, thank you.

    Any TV that is controlled by mind-reading, arm-waving, or yelling ain't gonna make the cut.
    • I don't see how it can read your mind


      any more than a human can. It just reads facial expressions, which even a dog can do. So unless it's sending the data back to Redmond I don't see the creepiness of it.
      Michael Kelly
  • RE: Forget GoogleTV, AppleTV. Kinect could be TV's future (after getting past creepiness)

    I disagree that the keyboard has no place in the living room, (I think, TV room?). Of course it does. It might be kept out of the way in a shelf or slot, but when its needed, Kinect might not be a convenient replacement. Voice commands maybe, but only a few gestures pack a lot of meaning that a computer will understand properly.