Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced plans to release an update to its Kinect system for Windows, the Desktop OS. The first iteration off the product was released at the beginning of February. The updated software will increase the sensors ability to see what users are doing at close range and will add functionality for a host of new languages. The most important feature of the update is the ability to track ten joints independently, allowing the device to follow users fingers around the keyboard. The device is due to be available around the globe this summer and the implementation of international languages is an important step for the company’s global launch of the product.
The Kinect was launched for the Xbox 360 in November of 2010. The device allows users to interact with their consoles divorcing the need for a controller,. Since then the device has found critical acclaim and a large hobbyist fan base who use the device to do innovative things and create a wide range of effects. The console version was initially seen as an attempt to retroactively allow Wii like functionality to the Xbox, a view which was exacerbated by the release games. The initial games were seen as simplistic and have colored consumer’s view of the product ever since. The revitalizing effect of hobbyist and academic work with the device is hoped to change the view but games that make better use of the system are badly needed.
Microsoft’s challenge will be in trying to persuade developers on its Window’s 8 platform to include Kinect functionality into their applications to give the device functionality that will draw in customers. The possibilities are almost endless as can be seen from the devices many uses by hackers on youtube. The creative attempts on show there will provide a direction for developers. The speech and spacial recognition of the system could be put to great use but only if applications become available. If Microsoft can provide these applications the device, which has been likened to Tom Cruises computer control in Minority Report, could revolutionize the way people interact with their computers. Such moves have only been memorably made by Apple in recent years. The crown of innovation is a coveted one and one difficult to usurp. Microsoft has the technology but needs the implementation to take charge.