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Kinect:Microsoft’s latest billion dollar baby.Technophiles/ Developers latest crush

Posted in New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 25, 2011

Kinect is not only one of the best things that has happened to Microsoft after a long time, it also possibly is the most remarkable product after iPhone and iPad. Apart from its impressive numbers, Kinect’s real success is in terms of being able to initiate innovation amongst developers. While Microsoft was initially against tampering of the hardware, the quality of the results that are coming in has forced it to tamper down its strict approach to tampering and jailbreaking.

Its been a long time, and a real long one at that since we heard something very positive and very good from the Microsoft stable. Microsoft has taken a lot of heat for its inability to innovate, but Kinect has proved that Microsoft is still in the game. The controller-free system for the Xbox 360 received almost universally glowing reviews and shipped 8 million units in the first quarter, making it one of the fastest selling tech product debuts in history. It also debuts fastest in the Microsoft $1 billion businesses. At $150 selling price and $59 BOM cost, Kinect is surely raking both margins and volumes.

While this is debatable, the initial inspiration came from Nintendo Wii, whose motion sensitive controller had made gaming more interactive. The idea was to get rid of the controller. Microsoft bought in a few key technologies from external companies mostly in the field of 3D imaging a human-motion sensing camera. With a start as brilliant as 8 million devices, the Kinect has evoked widespread anticipation, excitement and response amongst technolophiles. Kinect’s combination of sophisticated sensors and affordable price are opening up new possibilities for technophiles working in art, filmmaking, robotics and music. What perhaps is the greatest endorsement to Kinect’s abilities is that within a few days after launch it inspired a communal effort at hacking the software and use the Kinect hardware with PCs and other devices with free, open source code. This was called OpenKinect. As a result, the Kinect has already been used in countless ways its creators never anticipated. Within a quarter OpenKinect had 1650 people registered working as a part of open community innovating on Kinect.

Microsoft was initially skeptical. Perhaps recognizing the value of this innovation, Microsoft has since backed off their strict anti-tampering stance, even going so far as to have spokespeople appearing on the Science Friday podcast say that the port being used to connect the Kinect to PCs was “left open by design.”

Kinect was an extension of the NUI project.This Natural User Interface technology, or NUI, is already present on smart phones and tablets that feature multi-touch, pinch-to-zoom and other intuitive gesture-based control systems, but could be expanded to replace the television remote, the mouse and keyboard, and to introduce technology into new avenues of life.

Here are an assortment of the OpenKinect innovations on the Kinect platform:

Kinect Open Gravity

Kinect Illuminous

Kinect Depth Sculpting Probe

Kinect Keyboard Anywhere

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