The "Kinect Effect" and the Kinect for Windows to get a "commercial program" early next year

[Special Update]

I think the key quote for the Gallery is, "To that end, today Microsoft announced that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch early next year, giving global businesses the tools they need to develop applications on Kinect that could take their businesses and industries in new directions."

‘Kinect Effect’ Magic Pushes Beyond the Living Room

"REDMOND, Wash. – Oct. 31, 2011 – When it comes to technology and moon landings, there are small steps – and then there are leaps.

It’s been a year since Kinect for Xbox 360 jumped onto the scene, bringing with it a new era of controller-free, interactive gaming and entertainment for the living room

It’s been an amazing 12 months – it’s been absolutely inspiring,” says Alex Kipman, general manager of incubation for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. “When you have a great vision you expect it to do great things, but it’s humbling and inspiring to actually see it happen and exceed your expectations in terms of the ability – over a very short period of time – that you have affected the entire world.”

That effect – the Kinect Effect – began in its first 60 days on the market, when Microsoft sold a world-record 8 million devices. This made Kinect the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history, according to Guinness World Records.

Even as Kinect was enjoying consumer success, the device was also taking on a life of its own outside the living room as everyone from scientists to tinkerers and educators to hobbyists started dreaming up and creating non-gaming applications for Kinect.

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Jeremy Gibson, a game design instructor at the University of Southern California (USC), says a key reason Kinect has been able to move beyond the living room is because of how accessible the sophisticated technology is. For $149, people can buy a device that has 3D motion capture, facial and voice recognition, multi-array microphones, depth sensors and an RGB camera. In fact, Kinect packs such groundbreaking technological punch that Microsoft has filed nearly 600 patents to protect intellectual property related to the device.

“I think it opens up this realm of new experiences that are all about kinetics, not only physically immersive games but all kinds of new experiences,” Gibson says.

Indeed, since it was launched, Kinect has started popping up in a variety of places like healthcare, education, technology and industry. Kipman says more than 200 businesses, including 25 Fortune 500 companies, have joined a global pilot program to explore Kinect’s commercial possibilities. Toyota, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Razorfish are among those that signed up.

“There is enthusiasm sweeping across a wide range of industries,” Kipman says.

Keen on encouraging the fast-growing wealth of non-gaming applications that have sprung up for Kinect, Microsoft released an academic and enthusiast software development kit for non-commercial projects in June and promised to develop a similar kit for commercial uses. To that end, today Microsoft announced that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch early next year, giving global businesses the tools they need to develop applications on Kinect that could take their businesses and industries in new directions.

Thus, the genesis of the so-called “Kinect Effect” – a term coined in the hallways and conference rooms of Microsoft to describe the device’s increasingly widespread appeal and diversity of uses.

Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact

Making complicated technology disappear – this was essentially the vision for creating Kinect. That, and building on a platform that has taken millions and millions of years to create – the human body.

“We wanted to create technology that in a way understands us so we don’t have to understand it,” Kipman says. “That state-of-the-art technology combined with simple, fun, intuitive experiences is extremely powerful.”

Kinect removes the barrier of controllers, wands, gadgets or other gizmos or input devices, making the experience simply mano-a-technology. Kinect recognizes people. And with a wave of their hand or a voice command, it comes to life, bringing with it games, movies, TV, music, exercise, dancing and sports to their fingertips.

It’s this experience that inspired the U.K. tech news site T3.com to name Kinect both “Gadget of the Year” as well as “Gaming Gadget of the Year” – Kinect won in both categories, beating technology from companies like Sony, Apple, Nintendo and Amazon.

At USC, Gibson has Kinect in his classroom. He teaches game design and game prototyping in the School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Division, and says he and his colleagues are teaching students to develop for Xbox and for Kinect to give them hands-on experience with the new technology before they enter the real world.

“It broadens the horizons of our students and gives them the ability to come up with really interesting ideas they can create games out of,” Gibson says. “They’re learning game design, but really that’s just designing experiences for people – it’s not limited to games.”

This holiday season, more than 75 Kinect games will hit the market compared to the 17 released last year. This includes new Kinect games such as “Dance Central 2” and “Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster” but also Kinect-enhanced Xbox games such as “Forza Motorsport 4.”

Kinect has had an amazing first year, says Kevin Schofield, general manager of Microsoft Research, which played a key role in developing Kinect. “It’s amazing and fun and fascinating to watch the snowball effect of Kinect,” he says. “Kinect has taken something that was really hard to get and really expensive, and made it easy to get and inexpensive.”

...[click through the read the rest]"

An exciting past year, with exciting year to come...

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