Microsoft Is Planning To Use PC’s Webcam As Kinect Interface

Microsoft appears to be trying to extend the role of the humble PC webcam to act as ‘Kinect’ sensor.

The Redmond based company is trying to make use of the ubiquitous PC camera to act as the Kinect connector that has made immersive gaming possible for the Xbox gaming console. The company realizes that it may be impractical to mount Kinect sensors at the top of every PC, laptop or notebook.

General Manager of Xbox applications and developer relations for Microsoft, Michael Mott, revealed that the company is considering simpler alternatives, including using webcams, as an alternative to mounting a discrete sensor on top of or inside of a PC, reported PCWorld.

By discreet sensors he was referring to the Kinect Sensor which has greatly extended the gaming experience on Xbox gaming console. Introduced about 3 years back, the Kinect sensor was an optional accessory that maps the environment of the player in 3D. Thereafter, the physical movements of the player are translated into gaming instructions. The Microsoft launched the Kinect sensor with an apt description ‘You are the Controller‘.

Last week, Microsoft revealed the latest iteration of its Kinect. But this was meant for the Windows environment. The Xbox One game console has the Kinect sensor built right into it and thus offers a sleek profile for the hardware. However, when it comes to Windows PC, there are Millions of desktops, tablets and notebooks already in usage and asking these users to procure a separate accessory for the immersive experience is certainly an unrealistic expectation feels the company.

Kinect sensor is certainly not as simple as the PC webcam. It has very complex internals starting with a very powerful camera and infrared sensors that can accurately decipher even small movements like that of fingers. Moreover, the sensor has multi–directional cameras to pick out player dialogue. Therefore it is difficult to imagine how Microsoft plans to employ a webcam to function as Kinect sensor.

Hence, when confronted with the doubts, Mott clarified, “You could imagine that in the future. That’s not a plan of record. We’re really focused on getting developers to understand the fundamentals of a natural user interface.”

What he seemed to imply, was the usage of Kinect in everyday computing is more of the theory than a concept right now, but is certainly possible reports The Escapist Magazine. “The Kinect could be put inside conference rooms, using the technology to ‘focus’ on a speaker using his voice and posture. Microphone arrays could help place the speaker, but the camera could play a role, too. If I move forward and look like I’m going to stand up, it’s basically me taking the floor” suggested Mott.

The computing future could very well involve gesture control, voice commands and movement tracking. To know that Microsoft is actively trying to involve the simple webcam in the process is surely exciting.

[Image Credit | Engadget]