Kinect is Cool

While watching TV a couple of weeks ago, a Microsoft  Xbox Kinect spot came on. The soundtrack seemed familiar enough for me to “Google my brain” to find out whose music was playing. At first I thought maybe The Stranglers, then settled on Gang of Four. Thanks to Shazam, found it was indeed Gang of Four and the song playing is precisely “Natural’s Not In It” from the album 100 Flowers Bloom (1980). To quote a line from the Windows 7 Phone spots, “really?!” 1980?

I remember both bands fondly, having seen them perform back in the day. The Stranglers at Irving Plaza in New York (October, 1980) and Gang of Four at The Left Bank in Mt. Vernon (June, 1981).

But hey, it works. It seems this is the hot product of the season, and justifiably so. A real breakthrough product developed at the Microsoft R&D Center in Israel.

Oh, and what have we here? Gang of Four is releasing a new album (“Contect”) and kicks-off a North American tour in February. Good for them — and their agent. Well done. I’ve always enjoyed their music.

Xbox? No, don’t have one of those. Having a Nintendo Wii is enough. Both brilliant products, although the hacks possible with Kinect will make it truly interesting.  Such as this gesture-based glove interface, via Read Write Web:

Hackers at the famous MIT Media Lab have built an open-source Chrome browser extension that uses the Microsoft gesture-based controller Kinect to navigate around tabs and Web pages. The group says the end result is like the movie Minority Report and that seems like a fair comparison.

Called DepthJS, the software is on GitHub and open for collaboration. Check out the video above. It looks pretty good. Some of the gestures appear more dramatic than I would want to use to navigate the Web with, but perhaps that will change in time. If a gesture-based interface could capture text input as well, that would be even cooler. Cursor motion alone, however, is all it takes to evoke a vision of the future in which Kinect-like devices are used to control all kinds of Web-connected devices.

Kinect was intended as an interface for the XBox gaming console alone, but developers have made fast work at leveraging its technology in service of experiences beyond gaming. Aaron Zinman, a PhD candidate at MIT, said tonight on Twitter that the project is aimed to be available for other browsers in the near future.

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