In a new patent just published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has described a future system for controlling Macs using body language and gesturing, much like the Xbox 360’s Kinect. But frankly, if any Apple product is likely to use motion control, it’s the rumored iTV.
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Multitouch is so 2011. The future of computer interaction is gestures. Instead of swiping a finger, say analysts, we’ll be waving our hand. And in one of those ‘back to the future moments,’ Microsoft, which Apple passed in a blur, could be leading the ‘gestures’ movement thanks to its gaming interface Kinect.
Apple tried but failed to control the technology behind Microsoft’s incredible gesture-recognizing Kinect controller, but if you wonder what might have been if they succeeded, keep your eyes on this January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That’s where Ellipti Labs will demonstrate what gesture recognition could look like on the iPad.
Check out this awesome video of Kinect hacker Robert Hodgin manipulating the Kinect feed in realtime with Cinder, a C++ programming environment for creative projects. (Hodgin posted the source + OSX project here: http://code.google.com/p/ruisource/downloads/list)
And here’s one with his cat:
We already know that if a couple of overly restrictive NDAs hadn’t gotten in the way, Apple could have ended up owning the technology behind Microsoft’s new motion-control accessory for the Xbox 360 game console, but if you’ve already bought a Kinect and would like to see what a Mac with Kinect-like abilities could have been like, the hacker community’s already starting to put the software together, starting with hacker Theo Watson getting the Kinect’s cameras to output under OS X.
Ever played Lazer Tag? If Apple has its druthers, next time you play it, it won’t be with big ray guns and fluorescent sensors, but with your iPhone.
Apple’s gaming plans are described in a newly discovered patent dated April 2009 for “Interactive Gaming with Co-Located, Networked Direction and Location Aware Devices.”
The nitty gritty’s a lot cooler than that dry legalese description, though: what Apple is describing here is away to take advantage of an iPhone’s gyroscope, accelerometer and GPS to turn your handset into an aimable device that can talk to other iPhones that it is pointed at.
In June 2008, on a flight home from Europe to San Francisco, I was given a fascinating demo of some jaw-dropping technology.
I was sitting next Inon Beracha, CEO of Israeli company PrimeSense, which had developed a low-cost chip and software to do 3D machine vision.
The system used a pair of cameras and an infrared sensor to highlight people and track their movements.
On his laptop, Beracha showed me videos of people waving their hands in the air to control Wii-like games. He showed people controlling TV programming menus by gesturing their hands in the air. And, most impressive of all, someone flipping through a photo slide show like they were Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It was so slick, I asked him if it was CGI. It was real, he said, and so cheap, the technology could eventually be found everywhere in the home, office and car.
Of course, PrimeSense’s system is at the heart of Microsoft’s new Kinect game controller, which is getting rave reviews and looks set to be a monster hit. It’s a “crazy, magical, omigosh rush,” says the New York Times‘ David Pogue.
And it almost belonged to Apple.