Monday, November 08, 2010

The Kinect: Hot topic for November 8, 2010

The only new rising topic for today is the Microsoft XBox Kinect (displacing Divali, the Hindu festival of light).  The Kinect is, for those who don't already know, an addon for the XBox that provides "controllerless control" by using a combination of posture recognition, facial recognition, and voice recognition to allow control of the XBox merely by moving around within its recognition space.  I'm totally not a console gamer at all (the only console game I've ever had was a Pong game my father bought us back in 1978), but I'm seriously impressed by this technology.  If it performs half as well as Microsoft claims it does, it'll still be very impressive.

Interestingly, there is already FUD spreading about Kinect: several sources are claiming that the device "doesn't recognize black people", based on a GameSpot comment that the Kinect had difficulty recognizing some darker-skinned employees under certain lighting conditions.  In further testing by GameSpot, they were able to make it fail on white people too, and changing shirt colors seemed to make a difference.

It'll be interesting to see how long it'll be before similar input devices become available for use with general computing environments.  Probably a while yet.  The Kinect isn't that precise, but in the environment it's being used in it doesn't have to be.