How Microsoft's Kinect could bring gesture recognition to business apps

A Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) shows off how Kinect sensor integration with an ERP application might work
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Enthusiasts are clamoring for Microsoft to share more about how/when/if the company will include Kinect sensor integration in Windows 8. But in the interim, the Softies and Microsoft community are already thinking about Kinect integration beyond the operating system.

I've blogged before about Microsoft's work on bringing the Kinect and Xbox into the healthcare realm. And the Redmondians have been talking since fall 2010 about connecting up the Kinect to the company's Lync unified communications application/service.

But wait... there's more. What would it look like to bring the Kinect gesture-recognition capability to business applications, like Microsoft's Dynamics GP ERP? Believe it or not, there are folks out there already thinking through this scenario.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Jivtesh Singh, who works for Smith and Allen Consulting Inc., blogged on August 24 about his efforts on this front. From his post:

"(E)arlier this year, I saw Business Analyzer (Available with Dynamics GP 2010 R2), and how it let you add beautiful KPIs (key performance indicators), Charts and Graphs to your personal dashboard. What if we let people navigate Business Analyzer with their gestures. That seemed like a good fit – and could be used in meetings!

"Microsoft has done a great job with the Kinect SDK and the Kinect ToolBox. Using the two I was able to track 4 gestures, and then send commands to Business Analyzer to navigate through the reports."

(Note: So far, the only version of the Kinect SDK released by Microsoft is a beta for hobbyists/non-commercial applications. Microsoft execs have said they are working on a commercial version of the SDK, but haven't provided a ship target.)

The four gestures Singh incorporated in his demo:

  • Swipe to Right – Moves to next Graph in Business Analyzer
  • Swipe to Left – Move back to previous Graph
  • Expand Gesture – Zooms into a graph
  • Contract Gesture – Zoom out

He even recorded a two-minute YouTube video demonstrating his work:

I do little on my PC that I believe would be improved by gesture navigation. But as Singh noted in his post, it was an injury causing acute back pain that led him to think this kind of scenario through.

Readers out there have any other business-focused applications that they think would be a good fit with Kinect gesture/voice input?

Update: Reader Johan Broberg (@pontemonti) noted that Microsoft also demonstrated a Kinect-powered Dynamics AX shop-floor manufacturing app at its Convergence conference this year.

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