Watching my kids dance to Donna Summers “Hot Stuff” on Dance Central 2 at the local Microsoft retail store I began to realize that this game console may single handedly solve the obesity problem in the United States. Rather than spending endless hours on the couch honing their hand eye coordination playing Halo or the latest Madden football incarnation, kids are getting up and getting active while still playing their favorite video games. I even got in on the act, albeit poorly. Never the less, my kids got to witness their dad doing Digital Underground’s The Humpty Dance! I am sorry, videos will not be appearing on YouTube…as far as I know. What makes all of this “active play” possible is the Kinect’s natural user interface and voice user interface (NUI/VUI), where the player’s motion and voice control the action of the game. The popularity and advantages for gaming are clear. However, businesses are also starting to recognize the advantages provided by Kinect’s NUI/VUI, creating easier and more natural ways for business users to interface with systems and applications.
Boeing provides a great example of how businesses can use this technology to help sell products. The aerospace manufacturer is using Microsoft Kinect to help sell its Boeing 737 aircraft. It can be challenging to show these products to potential buyers. They require the interested party to come visit an airport or Boeing must fly the plane to them. Through the use of Microsoft Kinect’s NUI, Boeing has created an application that presents a virtual representation of the aircraft. Buyers can tour the plane virtually as if they are actually inside the plane or looking at aircraft parts live. The Microsoft Kinect captures the buyers’ motions simulating movement to allow them to explore the aircraft. One no longer needs to view the plane in person to experience the aircraft, it can be done virtually.
The possible business applications with MS Kinect are unlimited. Imagine using the system to tour a home you may wish to buy, interact with your physician allowing him or her to examine you and provide care remotely, or more quickly identify threats at border crossings using the camera to recognize dangerous individuals. What is clear is that the way we interact with computers is changing dramatically. The keyboard and mouse are going by the way of the horse and buggy. In the mean time, I am going to work on my moves to perfect The Humpty Dance on Dance Central 2 and hopefully regain a bit of fitness in the process.