Microsoft research has been working on refinements for the Kinect motion tracking hardware and software that could have a very big impact upon the peripheral’s utility. Currently the Kinect system only sees the hand as a “point” but recent work by the research team has implemented open and closed hand states. The new hand state recognition will allow better interactivity with a UI, simulating a left click or grab interaction.
Beyond showing us the concept and how it works the Microsoft researcher also demonstrates the use of the new grab gesture to work in Windows 8’s Fresh Paint and Maps apps. Within the Fresh Paint app the researcher could work quite naturally, painting with hand movements, picking brushes and colours. A few more possibilities were shown in the Maps app; the researcher used multi-touch twin hand gestures to zoom around, rotate and manipulate the map.
The Verge has a hands-on demo playing with the new Kinect facilities in their own video, taken at TechFest in Redmond this week. The technology magazine also informs us that “An updated SDK, due in the coming weeks, will open this functionality up to pave the way for gestural equivalents of the mouse click”. These refinements are only being targeted at Kinect for Windows at this time.
Microsoft aims to eventually shrink the Kinect down so that it can be inserted into mobile devices. Already a “thinner and smaller” re-designed Kinect sensor has been spotted but whether it was a fully realised Kinect 2 couldn’t be confirmed. Whatever Microsoft is planning it better improve its size and pricing combination if the Leap Motion, due to launch in less than a week, lives up to its promise.