Celebrating creative uses of Kinect
I love a good TV commercial. Last night I saw “The Kinect Effect” from Microsoft and it became an instant favorite. It’s a lovely piece of theater and very moving. It’s also Apple-esque, eerily resembling the “Think different” campaign. Good for you, Microsoft — I knew you had it in you!
The ad talks about the unexpected uses that individuals other than Microsoft R&D experts have discovered for the Xbox Kinect gaming device. For those who have been out of touch, you interact with a Kinect through voice or physical movement. As the video indicates, educators and other creative folks have been having a grand time exploring ways it can be used for more than gaming. Microsoft has even created a web page about this phenomenon, which they call the Kinect Effect.
This is all possible because Microsoft recently provided a beta toolkit that lets developers create their own applications for the device; expect a commercial release next year. My colleague, Paul Turner, has a student in his AT Lab working to add Kinect interactivity to a projected Gigapan panorama, so that you can zoom in and pan through the image by moving your arms and torso.
I love finding novel uses for a tool or figuring out ways to persuade one do something it doesn’t initially want to do. I am also a big fan of “blank slate” tools – ones that are not narrowly focused but can be used for a wide variety of purposes, like blogs and wikis.
The Kinect interface essentially lets your body act like a huge 3D computer mouse; your voice or gestures are received by the device and interpreted into commands that control a piece of software. It could conceivably be used for anything from browsing the web to flying a jet. I can’t wait to see what educators come up with!