At the risk of reviving a tired comparison, we can't help but bring up the fact that we keep inching closer to Minority Report-like computing. Swiping and using gestures on physical touchscreens served as a primer, and the next step is to be able to do those things in thin air. Well, guess what? You'll soon be able to, provided you own a Kinect for Windows
is reportedly close to releasing an updated SDK (Software Development Kit) for the Kinect
that will allow developers to integrate gestures such as pinch-to-zoom into their apps. With the new functionality in place, the Kinect is able to augment the exoskeleton with a grip-and-release signal. Pinch-to-zoom is accomplished by making a fist with both hands (pinch) and spreading them apart or closer together (zoom). Users can also pan around the screen using a single fist-grip.
The technology hinges on being able to recognize whether a hand is open or closed, which took lots of training data to accomplish. There are obvious applications in mapping software, but the sky's the limit as far as games go. At TechFest this week, Microsoft demonstrated the new functionality in Jetpack Joyride. Making a fist causes the character's jet to propel him upwards, while an open hand turns it off so that he comes back down.
At least for the time being, Microsoft only has plans to release gestures support on Kinect for Windows, though that may change when the Xbox 720 debuts later this year