Microsoft on Feb. 1 will roll out Kinect for Windows as it tries to leverage Xbox's best feature and natural user interface for broader use.
In a blog post, Microsoft outlined how it plans on using Kinect for Xbox 360 for new uses. For me, the money line from Microsoft was:
Kinect for Windows will also support gesture and voice on Windows Embedded-based devices and will enhance how data is captured and accessed within intelligent systems across manufacturing, retail and many more industries. We are building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings and we have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can get a little wound up about Kinect.
Microsoft's grand plan: Charge developers only for the hardware and give away the software developer kit. It's all about growing the ecosystem around Kinect. In other words, Kinect is going to be a lot more than fun and games. The company has been sprinkling around hints about what industries will work best for Kinect. Here's a look at five industries likely to dive head first into Kinect development.
Retail. Kinect also seems like a natural fit for the retail industry. Why? It's a handy way to try things on virtually, browse kiosks and select products. Microsoft is also likely to pair up Kinect technology with its Surface efforts for retail use.
Manufacturing. The uses for manufacturing and the Kinect are a bit less obvious. Training would be one critical area, but as manufacturing floors become more high-tech you could ultimately control robots with Kinect. If Toyota is testing out uses for the Kinect sensor there must be some mojo somewhere.
Advertising and marketing. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see how Kinect could be paired with PowerPoint to do presentations. In addition, display advertising at subways and consumer accessible areas could be interactive.
Education. Kinect can be a teaching tool. An obvious use case could be physical education and sports training. However, everything from class discussions to demonstrations could be more interactive in a virtual world.