On November 4, Microsoft began selling its Kinect sensors for Xbox at retail. Gamers -- and those with a hidden inner gamer just waiting to break free without a controller -- your star ship has arrived.
But what about those of us who don't care about gaming (even of the non-shooter variety)? Those who don't have TVs, and/or enough room in their apartments, dorm rooms or tree houses to wave our hands and partake of the current Kinect offering? We may not have to wait all that long to derive some benefit from Microsoft's newly commercialized NUI (natural user interface).
Gallery: Xbox 360 Kinect plays without a controller
If you hearken back to those Windows 8 partner slides that leaked earlier this year, you may recall that facial recognition and proximity sensing were on the short list off NUI interactions possible by 2012 (the likely delivery date of Microsoft's next operating system release).
Want to simulate driving in a game on your "Lap PC"? The Kinect technology, incorporated into the guts of new PCs, could turn your Windows 8 slate into a virtual steering wheel. If you enter a room, wouldn't it be cool (or maybe creepy) if your PC recognized you and turned itself on? Or what if it turned itself off if you left the room, thanks to the sensor-recognition technology? Or dimmed itself if you looked down for a set period of time, engaged in another project? All of these potential scenarios were outlined in the leaked Windows 8 deck.
Of course, because it was fairly early (April 2010) when the Windows 8 deck was authored, none of these NUI technologies may end up inside Windows 8 PCs. "Possible" features don't always graduate to the final feature list. It wouldn't be the first time that the Redmondians' gesture-recognition plans were put on the back burner (as those who recall Microsoft's early Windows Mobile 7 plans may recall).
However, it is clear that Microsoft's longer term plan is to make use of Kinect or Kinect-like sensor technology into more than just its gaming consoles.
Do you want more gesture and voice recognition controls in your next PC? Would a clap-on/clap-off PC float your boat?