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What Kinect Could Be, But Probably Won't

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the good-for-gaming-heyoooo dept.

Television 143

An opinion piece at CNN looks at Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, praising the system's capabilities not for gaming, but for what it does to the video viewing experience. "The idea of being able to ditch your table full of remote controls and just use your hands and voice to interact with the TV is compelling. It's much nicer than QWERTY keyboards, which are a terrible idea in the living room. It's also better than Wii-like remote controls, or even using an iPad or smartphone as your TV remote, a feature that cable companies are increasingly rolling out." The problem, as they see it, is Microsoft's inability to actually bring this into common usage for regular television viewing. "It seems like the company is tied too much to the Xbox's substantial gaming revenue to split the Xbox TV stuff off as a separate product — even though there's a huge population of non-gamers who probably have no interest in buying an Xbox." Perhaps this is something that can be addressed by others when the Kinect SDK is released.

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The very few times... (3, Interesting)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919788)

...that Microsoft comes up with something very cool on its own (i.e., without buying someone else's product and rebranding it), they have this frustrating tendency to screw it up with unimaginative business practices. In this instance, I give it at most two years before someone comes out with a similar product that will immediately charge to the lead in the market. At that point, Microsoft will try to catch up and that's what they'll be doing all the way up to the point where they discontinue the product. Their reliance on product limitations as a business practice may have helped them in the early years, but it's been a long time since it's been of any benefit.

I'm not a fan of Microsoft (though they make THE best keyboard with their Natural Ergonomic 4000), but I can only think that this is seriously frustrating for people who work there.

Re:The very few times... (0)

IDK (1033430) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919844)

...that Microsoft comes up with something very cool on its own

IIRC Microsoft didn't come up with it, they just bought the technology from another company. Although Microsoft did develop the software, which probably is a rather large part in it.

FARTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919868)

With channel blasting.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919884)

The software runs on XBOX which is exactly what people don't need to use kinect on their hacks.

Re:The very few times... (4, Informative)

benjymouse (756774) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919952)

Then you don't recall correctly, obviously. Microsoft did actually develop Project Natal within its own organization (and through a wholly-owned subsidiary). They are using hardware developed by an Israeli company.

Re:Kinect hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920022)

True, but in case you missed the point, people are only interested in the hardware which is exactly what Microsoft didn't develop. The XBOX is utterly irrelevant when hacking around with kinect.

Re:The very few times... (1, Interesting)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920094)

Then you don't recall correctly, obviously. Microsoft did actually develop Project Natal within its own organization (and through a wholly-owned subsidiary). They are using hardware developed by an Israeli company.

reposting my old comment:
"Actually NO, That "most successful company to ever exist" spends $600 million developing kinect (developing means running around buying out companies like 3DV Systems) and writing skeletal reconstruction code (that has a 0.5second LAG, just try playing Adventures and then compare lag to Fitness that doesnt use skeletal code and doesnt lag at all) ... and in the end used PrimeSense Reference Design because what they developed in house DIDNT WORK."

and:
"Its merely a partner agreement between Primesense and Microsoft. Microsoft doesnt own a single bit of hardware technology that goes into Kinect."

Re:The very few times... (2, Insightful)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920876)

Then by your comments about Microsoft NOT actually making the Kinect, Are we to assume you make everything you claim to make?
When you make dinner, do you raise the cattle? Do you grow your own wheat? Do you make your own cheese? Do you even make your own beer( I have friends that do that and its not that hard to do)??
Microsoft was at the helm the entire time this product was being developed and created. So what Steve Balmer didn't actually sit there and hand craft the molds for the plastic to be poured into to make the shell.
AntiMS fanboyism at its worst.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919906)

To be fair, even though Microsoft spend an enormous effort into the Kinect development, the original technology was bought by company acquisition, no?

Re:The very few times... (1)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919958)

I had no idea. Why I assumed that this was different from any other Microsoft product without first checking is beyond me.

Other than that, I stand by what I said.

Re:The very few times... (1)

illu (712188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920008)

As I recall they did buy the company that developed the "ZCam" 3D camera. But then they went with another technology entirely with the Kinect.
(ZCam used time of flight, Kinect uses structured light)

Re:The very few times... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920176)

Yes, they brought the technology from PrimeSense a Israeli company. Notice the kinect hardware is pretty much "raw" and most of the processing to make it useful is done on the XBOX. However kinect got famous for being easily hacked up into several projects which don't need the XBOX, people just replace the Microsoft's invention with their own code.

Re:The very few times... (1)

pasv (755179) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919962)

IMHO: Microsoft has been failing at mobile markets, it has openly stated that it doesn't see value in *pad/*tablet because it can't see it as being an irreplaceable entity. Well they jumped on the bandwagon too little and too late and now they have a real chance to gain power in new markets to make up for it. It's not news that the desktop market is still widely dominated by them but what will become evident (if isn't already blaringly obvious) is that the desktop is soon to see extinction. I don't mean that desktops will stop being used I'm saying you will be reading your slashdot from your tv, your phone, your pad, or perhaps another interface that has yet to be imagined/developed much more than that bulky thing under your desk. Anyway the new interfaces are being made now and if they have any sense they will make this tech cheaper (mass production) and start licensing with the next DVR installed in your house. I'm no fan of microsoft, but as a passive observer and a speculative commentator it seems almost too simple to me.

Re:The very few times... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920016)

Hardly, the 1b deal with nokia will flush the iPhone into oblivion.

Native exchange support, active directory, the fact MS servers and cloud solutions are the no1 choice in business will ensure their market dominance and pretty quickly if you ask me.

Kinect was an idea a good idea that works, so what? someone thinks of a new application for the technology and that's it MS is stupid? Geee well here is an idea give me a USB port on my iPad so I can print off it ... Wait no only MS is capable of such lack of vision.

Re:The very few times... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920590)

So the least liked mobile OS on the least liked mobile HW will destroy the second most popular mobile platform? No, Android (#1) will force the iPhone into the same proportion that Macs are going against Windows this decade. While those two will push MS/Nokia into the position Macs had vs Windows in the 1990s. While pushing Windows/Macs into the same position vs mobiles.

Nobody needs native Exchange support when Zimbra and other platforms replace and open Exchange - except people staying locked into the MS monopoly, which is not necessary on mobile. And FYI, MS servers are far behind Linux in general, while MS cloud solutions barely exist, and don't even register against Amazon and other actual cloud platforms.

Kinect was a good idea that MS bought, and dumbed down with the MS SW driving it. Only when it was hacked open by other people did it become a good idea that worked really well for more than just a niche of Xbox gamers.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921386)

Hardly, the 1b deal with nokia will flush nokia into oblivion.

FTFY.

Native exchange support

ActiveSync is what constitutes "native Exchange support" on Windows Phone 7. Hate to break it to you, sport, but both the iPhone and Android licensed ActiveSync from Microsoft for iOS and Android. So they have "native Exchange support" too.

Re:The very few times... (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920038)

Hmm..... I thought one read slashdot via a desktop machine because one's job necessitated being seated in front of desktop machine for 12 hours a day.

Re:The very few times... (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921314)

People at work think I'm crazy, but they also know when I'm reading /. because I'll be flailing my arms like crazy because I use my Kinect to scroll and type.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920140)

Stop drinking the tech blogger kool-aid. Whatever you read it on, it's still a fucking computer.

During your rambling, pointless paragraph I was quite surprised to see no mention of "the cloud" or changing my paradigm.

Re:The very few times... (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920188)

Stop drinking the tech blogger kool-aid. Whatever you read it on, it's still a fucking computer.

During your rambling, pointless paragraph I was quite surprised to see no mention of "the cloud" or changing my paradigm.

Hah! Also : I change my paradigms as often as I change my pants, and the only clouds I see are those in my coffee.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919968)

The problem is that they try to stitch everyone back to windows.
I don't like being stitched! Do You?
Aren't most devices non Windows related.

Re:The very few times... (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920646)

The problem is that they try to stitch everyone back to windows.

Well if it is just to watch video, being stitched to the xbox 360 may not be such an ideal thing either if you care about the environment and watch quite a bit. For light use it is fine, but beyond that it becomes a bit like using a power hungry Pentium 4 desktop to replace a 5 Watt router.

The xbox uses 150 Watts or so, the current generation of the Apple TV about 2.5 Watts (yes there's a decimal point in there!). Those figures don't count the displays of course. An iPad uses about 6 Watts including the screen. For a mobile device, it does surprisingly well with games.
A Wii (without display) uses somewhere around 15 Watts. PS3 power consumption is quite high, similar to the xbox 360.

It's desirable to be aware of how much power things use so we can make the optimal choices to match our needs. It's interesting to entertain the idea of using technology that one might be able to sustain in a home with solar panels or in a city feed from low-impact sources.

Re:The very few times... (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920212)

Wrong.

MS is milking the Xbox exactly the way they should.

If they spin off an Xbox TV console, they will be diluting the Xbox brand. In marketing, brand dilution = death.

Re:The very few times... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920614)

No, they could just issue the next gen Xbox that does exactly what Google TV does. The Xbox brand would just mean everything on your TV, from TV to Web to gaming to movies to personal desktops.

And then Google TV would probably just beat it in the market with the far better integration with the Internet by the far more open platform.

Re:The very few times... (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920348)

I'm not a fan of Microsoft (though they make THE best keyboard with their Natural Ergonomic 4000),

And it only took them how many years to make the "Natural" keyboards more or less right? The original had the home row keys higher than the surrounding keys, forcing your finger to actually move farther than on a normal keyboard. Besides, this is the best keyboard. [kinesis-ergo.com]

Re:The very few times... (1)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920548)

Those Kinesis keyboards look pretty damn awesome and I suppose they're the best if you can budget it, but when you take price into account, I still have to give it to the Microsoft one. And I know, it took them a long time to get to it, but it's there and it's good and it's cheap and the next time I'm in the market, it'll be that one that I compare others to.

Re:The very few times... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920478)

I agree with you 100% microsoft needs to adapt to the new world of computers. In the begining of the computer revolution, when there was nearly no competition, this practice may have worked for them but now it is just silly!

On a side note, I too have a Natural Ergonomic 4000 and it is most certainly the best keyboard on the market. As much as I hate M$ I have to give them kudos for that! My wrists have not hurt in a very long time due to owning one and I highly recommend it to anyone who spends a significant amount of time typing!

p.s. If you wait till Black Friday to get one Best Buy normally has them for $20 or so which is much better than paying the normal price

Re:The very few times... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920628)

In the begining of the computer revolution, when there was nearly no competition

When was that? Except for the late 1990s - early 2000s, when the MS monopoly killed practically all competition, there has always been extremely fierce competition through the entire past 35+ years of "the beginning of the computer revolution".

Re:The very few times... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920568)

For me, the most desireable remote control would be via by touch-screen smartphone. It's small, can use touchscreen gestures, (or motion gestures if you wished), has a usable touchscreen keyboard (for searching and direct channel access), and is a usable size. If the damn thing had an IR transmitter, it would be perfect. I used to use my Palm Treo for this, but its IR transmitter was very poor.

Re:The very few times... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921592)

For me, the most desireable remote control would be via by touch-screen smartphone. It's small, can use touchscreen gestures, (or motion gestures if you wished), has a usable touchscreen keyboard (for searching and direct channel access), and is a usable size. If the damn thing had an IR transmitter, it would be perfect. I used to use my Palm Treo for this, but its IR transmitter was very poor.

Saint Steve has your every desire [apple.com] satisfied. Well, some of them, anyway.

Explain to me... (5, Interesting)

Servaas (1050156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919814)

How would the Kinect be used as a TV remote replacment? Swipe left for down channel, right for next? Up for volume up and down for volume down? Ok now I want to jump from channel 34 to 21, what swipe gesture would I use for that? How about channel info? Will there be Kinect gesture classes in our children's school years? I hear people talking about the Kinect like its the second coming but other then specific problems that could be addresed by it for the most part its the child like idea of of having a Minority Report interface that has people excited.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919828)

"The idea of being able to ditch your table full of remote controls and just use your hands and voice to interact with the TV is compelling."

voice

Re:Explain to me... (2)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919836)

Presumably al non-simple functions would be controlled by voice, but frankly, I'd hate that. Like you say, the whole Minority Report thing often gets people excited, but in the end, the classic solution is less intrusive and more accurate.

Re:Explain to me... (4, Funny)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919934)

I kind of like the idea. Particularly if I can specify what words are used for the commands.

Firstly, I would name my entertainment unit Telebot. The command to power on would, of course, be "entertain me." Thus, to turn on my entertainment unit, I would say:

"Telebot, entertain me!"

And simply changing the channel is boring. I could go two ways on this: The command could be "transform to [number]" or "adjust your frequencies to channel [number]". Mute would have to be activated with "Telebot, silence!" and deactivated with "Telebot, you may proceed." All successful commands would be acknowledged with the OSD saying "Yes, Supreme Overlord" and unsuccessful commands would elicit "Does not compute", after which it would be properly contrite following some suitable punishment I have not thought up yet. The only trouble would be making it respond to an imperious tone and ignore all others.

Man, I'd actually start watching TV again if I could do that.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920012)

I imagine every treckie would make the power-on command "On screen."

Re:Explain to me... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921248)

Would it respond each time after the 50th by showing a really good Jean-Luc Picard facepalm?

Re:Explain to me... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921388)

You could set the volume to 10*(n-1)%, where n is the number of words in the command, and the command must contain the string 'sound,' 'volume' or 'audio.' That way the more treknobabble you make up, the louder it gets. 'Mute audio' gets you silence. 'Activate sound system' gets you 10%. 'Sound system to low' for 20%. Right up to 'Initialse the multiaural projectors for enhanced signal transmission via atmospheric vibrations' to get full volume.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920222)

"Yes, Supreme Overlord" ... following some suitable punishment ... The only trouble would be making it respond to an imperious tone and ignore all others.

Perhaps some sort of throne you have to sit on to issue Telebot commands? Or some cape pseudo-peripheral?

Re:Explain to me... (1)

mikaelwbergene (1944966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921182)

And naturally the un-undoable one;

Telebot, MAX VOLUME.

TELEBOT, OH GOD, OH GOD, LOWER THE VOLUME! WHY CAN'T YOU HEAR ME!?

(Caps actually used to illustrate shouting, go figure.)

Re:Explain to me... (1)

dasdrewid (653176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921452)

I know this is supposed to be joking, but I want this sooo bad now...

"Telebot, you are dismissed!" - Powers off

"Telebot, make me a sandwich!" - Tunes to the cooking channel

"Telebot, make me laugh!" - Tunes to Comedy Central

"Telebot, make me cry!" - Tunes to Fox News

"Telebot, make it rain, bitch!" - Tunes to the Weather Channel

"Telebot, hold!" - Pauses the DVR

"Telebot, kill!" - Turns to Lifetime and stops responding to instructions

"Telebot, where is/are my ____?" - Brings up a cool "scanning" video, with crosshairs and google maps and random windows with text flying by while it says "Scanning...Scanning" over and over. Then it stops, jumps to an rendering of "R.U.D.I." from the Jetsons which says "Up your butt!"

I am easily entertained...

Re:Explain to me... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921242)

I hate voice controls, I've got a rather deep voice and when I'm using voice menus sometimes the phone system can't pick up my voice at all no matter how loudly I yell at the damned thing. Google seems to have done a lot better with whatever they're using on Android, but it still has issues.

Voice recognition from across the room is even more complicated.

Re:Explain to me... (5, Interesting)

Mark Hood (1630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919846)

I have the same problem - remembering the passage from 'Hitchhikers' talking about how buttons on equipment gave way to touch controls, then to gestures... Meaning you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same station.

So either you have to accept that someone will change the channel every time they stretch (or throw their hands up in exasperation at a missed goal) or introduce a 'get the TV's attention' gesture. Yoo-hoo, I'm waving at you....

I see they're talking about using voice too - so I guess it's that, but how are you going to turn the volume down when it can't hear you over the sound of the movie? Or when someone happens to speak the keyword in a show you're watching? (Which reminds me, if anyone had that 'clapper' thing, did it turn your lights off whenever the ad for it came on?)

If someone gets it right, I'm all for it - but I just don't see it. 'Who wants a beer?' *hand goes up* *tv changes to Lifetime* *thirsty guy gets beaten*. I'll stick with my Harmony remote, to replace all the others - and I don't even need a webcam on 24/7 in my living room, with all the privacy implications that has.

Mark

PS We once had a TV at school which was had an ultrasonic remote (this was something that came out either before or in competition with IR). One of my classmates discovered that their sneezes were perfectly pitched to the 'change channel up' signal. Sadly it was hay-fever season, so they had to sit outside while we watched something about Henry VIII and chuckled uncontrollably whenever we remembered it.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919880)

Could be done. Something like tapping your hands together twice in succession to enable the controls, and have them revert to locked after ten seconds of no commands. But even then, it's got issues of viewing angles and placement that will mean it's impractical for many. My family TV, for example, would need a FOV of somewhere around a hundred degrees in order to cover all three of the sitting places - and one of those is often used while lying down.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920662)

Yes, because Kinect can't distinguish between highly specific hand gestures and cheering for a football game. It's just like 1970s ultrasonic TV remote technology. Typos make keyboards useless. Slippery joysticks prevent gaming. The mouse is too imprecise for drawing.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921498)

http://www.primesense.com/gallery.asp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F08-dtoVfSs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrU-lC2c2Jk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgPVGHXF5O4

Re:Explain to me... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919856)

It could be used as enhanced voice command. Kinect has cameras and 3d detection, so it is possible so see that you are giving commands to the TV and not chatting with someone about the sport channel. If the resolution is enough it could read your lips to have even better voice recognition. It could even help disabled persons.

Imagine you're on the phone, TV is getting louder you present you hand to the TV to mute it or even power it off. It could detect that everybody left the room and pause the movie. The is a lot of potential.

Re:Explain to me... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919928)

Yeah, with the next step to pause the commercials if there's nobody watching it.

Technology that can be turned against you will.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919860)

Most likely that way, but that can also be handled by your run-of-the-mill webcam with some machine vision, especially that most webcams also carry a mike. I don't really see how 3D vision can improve video playback experience...

This resembles TV Shop... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919892)

In commercials you always see how some ordinary thing is so very difficult and cubersome to do. You know... "Vacuuming under the sofa is so hard and the vacuum cleaner doesn't fit there well and you have to (*gasp*) kneel down and it still won't be perfectly clean... But if you buy Super Cleaner (TM) RIGHT NOW you'll...". At that point, every regular person should go "Excuse me? I've vacuumed under the sofa and it's not that difficult, really". The commercials are trying to create a need that doesn't exists because there is a product that has been designed to fulfill that need. This sounds similar.

The reason why it's difficult to come up with a replacement for a remote is that there isn't any real need for that. Are the remotes really that hard to use? You pick one up. lay on the sofa and can do anything with a small finger gesture. I don't understand why they're trying to create need for a replacement with those very artificial sounding arguments. "It's hard to pick up the right remote"? Oh please...

Re:This resembles TV Shop... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920158)

In some cases it is hard. you can have 4-8 remotes to control your fancy tv/audio setup.

what is really needed is a standard set of controlling codes for remotes. so you don't have to go through the often lengthy and wrong procedure of trying to teach a remote all the codes that it might need.

a universal remote often sacrifces ease of use for features.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920026)

Remote controls need 6 buttons: UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, OK, CANCEL. Everything can be controlled with these buttons and well designed on-screen menus.

Most receivers show a list of channels when you press OK. Then press UP or DOWN to move through the list and LEFT or RIGHT to jump by whole pages. OK to switch to the selected channel, CANCEL to exit the channel list without changing channels.

Use the CANCEL button to open (and close) the menu, UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT to navigate, OK to select.

I think you can come up with six clearly distinguishable gestures. I don't know how practical pointing is with the Kinect, but that might be an option too. Even so, I'm skeptical if gestures and pointing are more practical than even a very limited remote. Someone will have to do a demo and test it on live couch potatoes.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920216)

Well, sure, if you want to replace a good remote with one that only has 6 "buttons" you can do so. But I also regularly use the number buttons to pick my channels more quickly. I use the "Input Source" button to switch between devices, and would rather not have to add an extra step "Menu->Input Source->Cable", When watching DVDs , I use the pause, play, rewind and subtitle buttons. Our cable box has a DVR button, which I'd want to keep because the Cable-Box's Menu is slow and annoying to launch.

I don't want to have to learn that many gestures. I just wish the "Universal Remote" makers could actually make a remote with all the functions I want on it.

Re:Explain to me... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920268)

I doubt that anyone will prefer navigating a list to simply pressing a couple of numbers to get to any channel. Until we can say "vee aitch one" and have it switch channels, a numeric keypad will probably be the most practical system.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920356)

I do. The channels which I watch with any kind of regularity are sorted first in the list, where I reach them with UP/DOWN zapping. I don't watch the other channels often enough to remember their number, and the numbers change when new channels become available or channels drop off the list. I haven't changed channels by pressing a number button in a long time.

Re:Explain to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920134)

Well, for me personally I use mouse gestures to control a large part of my internet browsing experience. Back in the day I even used it to open programs and so on.

Swipe right in firefox to go to the next tab, swipe diagonal down-left to minimize, backwards c to close tabs, left swipe to go back, circle to reload, and so forth. Now, does this mean my keyboard is unnecessary? Nope. But it means that for those little things I do here and there it's far more convenient than having to get my hand off the mouse and hit ctrl-tab/ctrl f4/backspace/f5 or even moving my mouse to hit specific buttons.

What I'm trying to say is, yeah completely replacing the remote is probably more irritating than anything. But volume control, mute, channel surfing, power on and off, switching to different media inputs, and so on can probably be done with kinect gestures for a little bit more convenience.

Turn your hand in a clockwise motion? Fast forward. Counterclockwise? Rewind. Palm facing the tv? Pause. Downward chop? Play. Upward chop? Stop. Gradual raising of hand? Volume up. Gradual lowering? Volume down. Right flick of the wrist? Next chapter/Up a channel. Left flick? Previous chapter/down a channel.

There's a lot of potential, but the things the designers need to know are

1: Only do the ones that are most common. We don't need a gesture to do each channel number.

  2: Make sure you don't need more than one hand. Convenience is what matters here.

Also figure out how to turn on and turn off gestures somehow. I don't want to suddenly max my volume when I'm stretching during a movie.

Easy answer (2)

gozu (541069) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920344)

Microphone in the kinect. Just speak "channel 34" or, even better, "CNN sports".

Any further questions?

Re:Explain to me... (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920638)

I don't see why a basic hand vocabulary of 5-20 gestures from American Sign Language couldn't be the global standard for "talking" to Kinect. Why would children need school for that when they'd learn it earlier, faster and better just "watching TV"?

Re:Explain to me... (1)

chrispalasz (974485) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921708)

"Explain it to me"... ok It doesn't have to be as stupid as your lack-of imagination makes it sound. The remote control can come in the form of on-screen menus which users can use hand motions to swipe at. They could make a motion that brings down a digital pad for punching numbers or whatever else you might want, or else just a white board where you can draw the command you want in the air with your fingers.

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919824)

I prefer my QWERTY keyboard. (a really nice clicky Unicomp spacesaver by the way)

TV? (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920490)

First, a cabled keyboard that weighs at least four pounds doesn't seem like the best TV remote out there.
Second, what is this TV you speak of? Oh, you mean that tech from the twentieth century?

Seriously, a PC, and internet connection and a huge screen is becoming increasingly viable as a television replacement. Microsoft may have trouble putting Kinects on set-top boxes, but eventually, even the Cable companies and their vaunted "digital cable" will fall.

MS + XBox + Akamai (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919854)

Let the XBox be in a tablet format.
That would be a powerful combination. Winning!!

Merry Easter and Happy New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919858)

New easter year! WTF is easter anyway? What is it already, and what is with the rabbit? And eggs? And worst of all, no presents! Whose fucking idea was this then?

Re:Merry Easter and Happy New (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919888)

It's several different holidays rolled into one, due to the tendency of religions to steal from each other. The rabbit and eggs are old pagan fertility symbols, and the name itsself is a corrupted name of a pagan goddess. Christians incorporated them - it's not clear if they simply co-opted an existing festival, or if they came up with their own at around the same date and over time the two merged together.

12 watts of power, right? (3, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919876)

Not to be a party-pooper, because different interfaces should be explored, of course, but for day to day usage I could, on principle, not justify using a TV remote that draws 12 watts.

Re:12 watts of power, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920170)

Not to be a party-pooper, because different interfaces should be explored, of course, but for day to day usage I could, on principle, not justify using a TV remote that draws 12 watts.

Kill the project. A random pseduoanonymous commenter has a principled stand against it.

Your principles are neither universal nor binding upon others. Consider the energy cost of an Xbox media center remote. Consider the energy cost of batteries. Consider the ease of installing solar panels. I'm a' risk it.

Stupid. (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919886)

I think that there is a reason that this guy is writing opinion pieces for CNN, rather than actual strategies:

Microsoft's "unwillingness" to split off some sort of 'xbox TV' thing: So, the kinect is a ~$100-$120 device(and Microsoft is apparently not making a loss; but not trying to mar a launch by gouging). On top of that, it needs a host device to run the body-detection stuff. So, you might be able to do an 'xbox TV' for a bit less than a base-model xbox SKU+Kinect, by going with a weaker CPU and no GPU; but such a device would still cost much more than a universal remote and not so much less than the base model xbox that it could really differentiate itself.

"Table full of remotes": Y'know why you have so many remotes? Because you have a zillion sucky little set-top-boxes that require more fiddling than joe user is willing to devote to the problem to get working together nicely. Guess what problem your 'xbox TV', no matter how magical the input experience, won't solve? Oh, yeah, that one. Consumer video is a mess, with endless fast-replaced devices, minimal control standardization(and what standardization there is, as with HDMI CEC or Cablecard, is either a few rounds short of fully baked or a failure by design), and some fairly entrenched players who have absolutely no intention of being shoved out of the way so that you can use the box you want to, rather than Scientific Atlanta's latest sick effort. That is the hard part.

Stupid-PCs in TVs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921374)

There's another thing, Microsoft really does want Microsoft in every living room, either as a game console, or media player, and maybe soon, personal computer. Selling a peripheral that doesn't need Xbox doesn't further that goal.

Or just licence the tech from the original company (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919922)

If it was such an interesting feature, TV manufacturers could just licence the tech from PrimeSense [primesense.com] , the company behind Kinect, and built it straight into TVs...

Qwerty in the living room (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919948)

The article says a qwerty keyboard in the living room is a bad idea, without explaining why. So, why?

Thanks.

Re:Qwerty in the living room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920044)

The article says a qwerty keyboard in the living room is a bad idea, without explaining why. So, why?

It's not cool enough.

(Seriously, I doubt there is any real reason. A wireless bluetooth keyboard would work fine in a living room but there is probably computer syndrome involved where anything that uses a keyboard or mouse causes the user to drop 30 IQ points at the sight of it [See "can't find the 'any' key"])

From a more pragmatic perspective, a keyboard is not ideal for this situation generally since it would be either opaque (Every letter key maps to a different function, eg. Press A to switch TV/AV) or slow (Type "channel 35<enter>"), I don't see the problem with a universal remote honestly. The idea of waving at the TV to call up a channel menu then raising and lowering your arm to scroll and then forming a fist with index finger extended to select a channel is cool from a novelty perspective but is a rather expensive toy for such a limited use case.

Linux in my living room (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920096)

"What the Kinect Could Be, But Probably Won't" -- Been there done that -- TFA should be called, "What Kinect & LIRC hackers have realized is really lame way to control a TV or computer."

The article says a qwerty keyboard in the living room is a bad idea, without explaining why. So, why?

Thanks.

Because Dvorak is so much nicer.

On a serious note, I don't see keyboards going away any time soon (or ever). I can type almost as fast as I think and 8 times as fast as I can get my voice recognition software to recognize.

What I am seeing more of is Computers. Everywhere. In portable phone & tablet form factors, as mp3 players, as game consoles, set-top boxes and routers... Even in the dash of some cars.

Once we realize that TVs are just big computer screens, and a general purpose "desktop" computer can perform all the tasks that we currently use the set-top boxes for, it won't seem too strange to just use your keyboard in the living room. Google TV already does this... For typing in a search or composing text/emails, nothing beats a keyboard. If I'm near my computer, I use it to send text messages.

Hell, I even have a wireless USB keyboard hooked up to my XBox360 -- It's much quicker/nicer than the overpriced controller mounted keyboard.

We'll always need a pointing device -- I prefer a Wacom pen-tablet/mouse pad, but I could see a Kinect filling this role. In fact, I've used my Kinect to control the mouse pointer, but the CPU usage is ridiculous when you consider how little my Wacom uses and how much more precise it is.

As for Kinect controlling the TV -- Well, I've done that. It wasn't that hard. I've been using LIRC to control my TV with Linux for quite some time. Linking LIRC [lirc.org] to a gesture recognizer (libFreenect [openkinect.org] + OpenCV [willowgarage.com] ) was a piece of cake, but not really worth it. The Kinect is far less efficient and precise than either my truly universal remote (which I use to control both the TV & computer with via LIRC), or a simple keyboard / mouse combo. Seriously though -- WAY too much CPU consumption when you consider how little an IR remote, keyboard or mouse/pen tablet consumes...

Re:Qwerty in the living room (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920128)

It's a bad replacement for a remote control. You want a remote. You don't want to have to rub your belly and pat your head to change your television's view mode from Stretch to S.Stretch, so Kinect is a bad replacement too.

Try running XBMC with just a keyboard sometime and tell me how you like it.

Re:Qwerty in the living room (1)

jtmach (958490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921352)

I run XBMC with just a keyboard all the time. I have a Logitech DiNovo Mini in the living room, and I almost never use the mouse mode, which leaves me with just the functionality of the keyboard. The only real issue I've run into is that the Mini doesn't have function keys. So I couldn't close the Netflix plugin, autohotkey fixed that right up.

Re:Qwerty in the living room (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35922064)

your memory must be better than mine, I can never remember which key does what except for the biggies.

Re:Qwerty in the living room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920242)

Because to most people, they are scary!

I have a wireless one in my living room and it's fine. When not used it tucks away under the coffee table, invisible. When I need it, it's there as a high-bandwidth input device.

Sometimes being able to type part of a show name to search for is way faster than scrolling around like an idiot.

But remember, for 99% of the public: keyboard = scary! Hard! Anything with more than 4 buttons is too complicated for your average mouth breather. Hell, we live in a society where people bitch about the difficulty of drag and drop to copy files. Seriously. The ultimate goal is to dumb everything down as far as possible.

what h2g2 has to say on the matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920002)

Chapter 12

        A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha
radio wavebands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been
operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated
the controls were made touch-sensitive - you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you
had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of
muscular expenditure of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening
to the same programme.

Wow, talk about a bad idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920010)

All you need is two people who wanna watch TV, for the matter let's say a husband and his wife, and all they have is one TV that has no remote - both can control it by merely moving their hands, and lord knows Mr. Something doesn't want to watch that reality show that Mrs. Something really likes. Five minutes later, and they're using they hands to kill each other, not control the TV.

Not to talk about when they reach out their hand to grab a tissue from the table, but the TV mistakes it for a shutdown command.

Here's one idea you'll soon forget but read about nine years from now in a "list of the 2010s dumbest ideas" on the Internet.

Want! (1)

llordreefa (246581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920036)

Especially if it will respond with Majel Barret's voice.

1984 (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920056)

Kinect uses a camera. If you want to use gestures to turn the TV on the camera has to be on all the time. For me thats a little bit creepy. I know kinect just turns the image it gets into a model, but what if the suppliers of the equipment sell the data it collects to advertisers? How much time do you actually spend in front of the TV? Do you listen to music? What music? When you rent a DVD how many people are actually watching? Is that more than the DVD was licensed to be viewed by?

And so on.

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920592)

Kinect uses a camera. If you want to use gestures to turn the TV on the camera has to be on all the time. For me thats a little bit creepy. I know kinect just turns the image it gets into a model

The Kinect has 2 cameras, one webcam that takes standard video and a depth camera that operates in infrared. There's also a microphone. [Yes, everything you need to be spied on in your own home, just add Internet connectivity!]

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921970)

When you use your browser, I guess you trust it not to sell your passwords and credit card information, don't you? You trust your ISP (or your OS) not to sell your browsing habits to advertisers, either. You trust the cook of a restaurant not to use rotten meat in your meal. You trust your government to spend your taxes wisely. And so on.

Sometimes, this trust is misplaced, and you learn not to use unknown browsers, or go to shady restaurants.But thankfully, the world isn't all black. There may be agencies, like the FCC, that ensure your phone won't explode when you use it, or consumer associations that list untrustworthy suppliers. Something like that may be established to ensure you have control over the informations in your home.

I'm currently working on smart homes, and it makes me a sad to know that, when I suggest using camera, most people will just say "not in my house", despite the usefulness such tools may have. It may not be as cheap as other sensors, and may require a bit more power to run, but it allows access to informations no other sensor may provide, and therefore better services.

Wrong. Not even close. (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920066)

The problem, as they see it, is Microsoft's inability to actually bring this into common usage for regular television viewing. "It seems like the company is tied too much to the Xbox's substantial gaming revenue to split the Xbox TV stuff off as a separate product â" even though there's a huge population of non-gamers who probably have no interest in buying an Xbox.

Sales as a separate product would be incremental and would not hurt Xbox or Kinect sales to gamers. However developing and supporting an interface between Kinect and all the world's TVs and cable boxes would be ... difficult ... and not worth any incremental revenue.

The market for universal remotes is not an attractive one.

Re:Wrong. Not even close. (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921138)

revenue is 2nd fiddle at Microsoft so don't think revenue is all that important. They have Windows and MS Office supplying billions in profits so things like the XBox, Windows for devices, Zune, etc are all products with the primary purpose to protect the profit machine and limit or restrict growth of a potential competitor to that profit stream. That's how and why they can lose 10s of billions on Xbox and keep doing it or lose around 20 billion on the Windows CE base. For 20 years their PC OS has been their one and only profit generator and protecting that has been their number one job and it shows. The ultimate one hit wonder. So don't bet too much on revenue or profits directing how Microsoft operates its fringe products.

LoB

Re:Wrong. Not even close. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921536)

youre ignoring the fact that profits on their fringe products DO influence their decisions. If they see something as just a loss with no possibility of working out, they shelve it.

I always laugh when people say the xbox is losing microsoft money. Those nubers are just hardware sales - in other words licensing and live subscriptions are not taken into account. Sure they lose money on hardware, but they make buttloads off of everything else. Sure, they have sources of revenue, but in the end they still have to answer to their shareholders. Losing billions on an entire branch of the company, well, that wouldn't look to good now would it?

Well they managed to do it for Gfx cards... (1)

ljwest (743563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920102)

People made the same argument amount about graphics cards... that the revenue from gaming was so large that the cards could never be "separated off" for for general purpose- or scientific- computing. But now general purpose computing on graphics processing units is an industry with its own conferences, journals and "off-the-shelf" vendors even though only a tiny fraction of graphics cards end up in such clusters. Now, I don't know about the feasibility of using a Kinect in the manner suggested, but revenue from gaming is not going to slow them up. If there is another "buck" to be made, it will be made.

I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920132)

XBMC: Kinect Edition

Wow, what "news". (2)

drej (1663541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920420)

I don't know what's the most ridiculous; The headline (since when is "what could be but probably won't" news?), the fact that these news start with "An opinion piece at CNN" (opinion /= news) or that the whole idea is so utterly stupid that I can't help but facepalm (which would probably entice Kinect to delete the channel or something).

Next up: Some guy on the street says cars could run on liquid gold soon but probably won't. In his opinion car manufacturers could produce cars running on gold for 5$ less than the average gas-guzzling car and thus eliminate the demand for oil.

Re:Wow, what "news". (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920552)

Just because you're entitled to have your opinion doesn't mean it's worth sharing. Liquid gold cars cheaper than oil is actually not possible. Kinect eliminating TV/media/Web remotes for everyone is clearly completely possible, except that Microsoft is probably not capable of doing it.

BTW, just because you're entitled to have a limited HCI interface design imagination doesn't mean it's worth expecting that from good designers.

Google TV (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920524)

It's obvious that the miraculous "convergence" of TV and Internet people (especially financial people) have been talking about for over a decade is simply Kinect + Google TV.

It's also pretty obvious that monopolism and patents (monopolism) will prevent Microsoft and Google from allowing that. At least, Microsoft's desperate clutch on monopoly rather than value will prevent its Kinect from putting Google atop that converged platform, leaving MS doing the dirty work while Google's brand and revenues shoot up on it.

If only Google had bought Kinect to market it instead of Microsoft. Maybe it's not too late for Google to get "3D movie recognition" to the masses on a more open platform. Microsoft will fight that literally to its dying day.

Re:Google TV (2)

gig (78408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920956)

Ridiculous. Google TV is just a PC. It's obvious people don't want a PC in their living room. It's obvious Google can't design its way out of a paper bag. It's obvious Google has no idea how to make a consumer product. Google TV did not sell. More people buy an Apple TV every week than all the Google TV units that have been sold in its lifetime. For the price of a Google TV, you can get an Apple TV and an iPod touch to use as remote and for apps. Then you can look something up on the Web or tweet without taking over the TV screen and destroying the experience for the people you're watching TV with, which Google TV forgot all about since it is built for lonely nerds. Adding a Kinect only makes Google TV that much more expensive and makes the whole idea even crazier.

Re:Google TV (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921162)

No, it's obvious that you don't have a Google TV unit. Especially not one integrated into the TV. The difference in form factor is everything to the mass market. And the difference in open platform from what you do understand is also obviously unknown to you. Nobody's developing apps for Apple TV except Apple, but the Android that is Google TV is where all the developers are and are going.

  Google TV doesn't have to take up the whole screen. Picture in picture is standard in the HW, OS and default apps. And the API lets any mixture, whether PIP or (transparent) layers, work under the whole OS.

I expect that Apple will have Google TV apps that are as big in the GTV platform as MS apps have been on Macs. Or else, if Apple is as unable to compete without a platform lockin crutch, that 3rd parties will copy Apple's techniques into GTV apps. Probably MS will do it eventually, when its desktop business isn't as big as its Xbox (gaming/media) business.

Google built (or rather designed for partners like Sony and Logitech etc to build) Google TV for lonely nerds. Who are the people who Google relies on to produce Internet and media apps and content, which evolve winning ways that big app/media corps copy (and acquire). Which has done extremely well for Google on desktops and mobiles. It will do even better on TV. Especially since Google will now have complete coverage everywhere people are networked together.

Why wait for the SDK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920538)

It has been hacked and you can program against it now: http://www.ideum.com/blog/category/kinect/

Logitech Harmony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920668)

One remote to rule them all. Not to sound like a commercial, but I did have a bunch of remotes for lots of different components: TV, receiver, BD player, cable box, etc. Now I have just one: a Logitech Harmony One. It takes a little while to set it up with all of your components and to define the macros and special buttons that you want, but once you are done, you're set. Now if the Kinect could properly understand me waving my middle finger in its general direction...

Kenitic + 3D animation software = ....... (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920890)

I would love to see a hack that would allow people to use the Kinect with programs like 3dMax and other 3d programs. It would be awesome to be able to download or create a 3d model and then use the kinetic to animate the models and easily make your own animated movies.

Price too high, set-up too much, false positives (1)

gig (78408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921044)

Kinect is almost twice the price of a set-top computer such as Apple TV or Roku. Even if it came with a free set-top, it is too expensive for the set-top market. And an Xbox and Kinect cost more than an Apple TV and iPod touch, which also gives the user a device for apps while they watch, like looking up things on the Web or tweeting or voting on American Idol. And more people know how to use an iPod than Kinect.

What would be needed is a $99 set-top that has a built-in cheapo Kinect. Maybe just a webcam. That is also needed because the people who don't want to get an Xbox also don't want to plug in accessories. Plugging AC and HDMI into the TV is already pushing it.

And finally, wouldn't the Kinect be triggered accidentally by people moving around as they watch TV? Like waving around as they watch a sporting event? It's the same problem as voice activated TV, where the main problem is that most of the words the TV hears are not for it. Most of the movements the Kinect sees would not be for it. It might receive a command only once every 1.5 hours. Who wants to have a movie stop because they clapped their hands?

So ultimately, Kinect is for games. Gesture control of a TV will likely require not just some Kinect software, but a new Kinect designed specifically for set-tops, not game consoles. It would have to be cheaper, easier to set-up, and smart enough to know when it is not being talked to.

The problem is, even if they could work all that out and do a Kinect TV for $99, Microsoft won't build it because they think of a giant noisy Xbox as their set-top and they don't want to cannibalize.

PrimeSense Living Room Entertainment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35921298)

PrimeSense (original source for the Kinect) has been touting that use-case for years:
http://www.primesense.com/?p=563

Sustainment problems (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921430)

The real headache of integrating a system so that it can control home entertainment systems is the tremendous number of systems with which one must integrate..and the ongoing maintenance of that integration. Every new Blu-ray player, tv set, cable box, etc. means at the very least a sanity check on remote settings and at the very most a whole effort around producing a set of new commands. Multiply that by every vendor of note, and then add the update feature. Even Logitech had to buy another company to get this right; it's a HUGE pain in the ass.

Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921816)

Am I the only one that whenever I hear of Kinect-controlled TVs thinks of the Sub-Eartha Radio on the Heart of Gold, where you had to remain perfectly motionless in order to remain listening to the same station?

QWERTY keyboards in the living room (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921918)

Since when are QWERTY keyboards a terrible idea in the living room?

I picked up a Logitech diNovo Edge wireless keyboard a few years ago, and I very much prefer it to any remote control I've come across. Its volume slider alone is a more sophisticated, responsive, and precise approach to the three-button, louder/quieter/mute approach every remote has. Same with the horizontal and vertical scrolling touchpad. Searching for specific media? Keying in precisely what you're searching for will almost always be faster than browsing.

When it comes to remotes, there is no standardized button layout. Great, so I have to memorize new positions for each and every new device, even though the functions are the same! Even better, frequently remotes will have prominently-placed buttons that simply do not do anything, since you don't have the corresponding device, service, or configuration. Even the button layout is awkward: you can probably change the channel and adjust the volume without looking, but many other functions will require you to look at the device. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that remote control design is intentionally inefficient, as it would increase the time spent browsing.

I can imagine voice command being more efficient for some functions, but I cannot imagine a Kinect being a quicker and/or more convenient way to access so much functionality, unless the precision increases by an order of magnitude or two -- precise enough to use finger-entry on a virtual, QWERTY keyboard, basically.
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