Tesco Tech Support Blog

Will you use Kinect for Windows?

Amidst all the excitement about Windows 8 and its sleek new Modern User Interface (UI) last week, one fact slipped by almost unreported upon.

Kinect for Windows

This kind of tech could be used in hospitals and would help to maintain a sterile environment.

While the brightly coloured tiles of Modern UI are wonderful to use on a touch sensitive surface, such as a tablet or touchscreen laptop, they’re also not entirely dissimilar to the Xbox dashboard – and therefore very easy to navigate by gesture too.

What are we talking about? Part of the reason for the new look Xbox dashboard, which launched about a year ago, was to make it easier to navigate using Microsoft’s still unique motion sensing controller, Kinect.

By waving at the intelligent webcam and swiping your hand from side to side, you can move around the Xbox interface as smoothly as using a traditional controller. Launching games and connecting to web services is easy, especially as there’s rudimentary voice recognition built in too.

Back in February, Microsoft formally launched Kinect for Windows, a new version of the camera rig and software designed for Windows 7. They didn’t make too big a deal of it, as it was expensive and earmarked for high-end applications, such as information posts in posh hotels, at first.

At at least one of the international venues for the launch of Windows 8 last week, however, Microsoft showed off the smooth interaction between Kinect and the Modern UI. The scenario was a medical one, and it allowed surgeons to scroll around patient records and access photographs of wounds without touching the screen – vital in a sterile operating theatre.

It’s not quite caught on for the mainstream desktop yet, but it will. Sony already manufactures a laptop with a Kinect-like camera built in, and Creative Technology – the makers of SoundBlaster audio cards – is looking to put tiny Kinect-like cameras in mass production soon. It all points to a revolution in desktop computing as potentially huge as touch was to mobile.

More importantly, it solves the big problem with the traditional desktop. Laptops and tablet are great to use with touch sensitive screens, but on a large desktop holding your arm out in front of you gets sore after a while. Sitting back and drawing gestures in the air to get around Windows, however, could well spell the end of the mouse.

Give it a year or so, and see what happens.

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