Will Kinect go from game playing to controlling vehicles?

Microsoft has dropped a huge hint of what they have planned for Kinect in the future, with a job listing looking for an experienced software development engineer. The successful applicant will be working in the Microsoft Connected Car team and the Kinect motion sensor is technology that Microsoft wants to expand from the world of interactive games. This means that in future, drivers in the UK could be buying and driving a vehicle that watches and reacts to every move through a Kinect device that is embedded in the dashboard.

The job talks about a vehicle knowing who the driver and passengers are and how it will allow the Kinect device to interact with them as recognized individuals. The vehicle will also have the ability to track an image such as a face and respond if it feels that it is necessary. For example, if the driver does not look at the road for an extended period of time, the car will give a warning, and if that does not work the brakes would be applied by. If this does happen it may mean cheaper car insurance quotes as there should be fewer accidents.

Microsoft do not just want to put Kinect in vehicles, they want to make it possible to have the entire Windows device ecosystem hooked up to the vehicle. Windows Phone, Azure cloud to store routes, music, and videos for the kids to watch in the back. They also want Windows 8 to be integrated into the vehicle. This all sounds great but there is a long way to go as anyone who has played interactive games on the Xbox with a Kinect sensor will testify. Kinect currently is not the most reliable system when it comes to interpreting actions, so unless Microsoft improves on the technology with Kinect 2 or 3, it’s not going to get any car manufacturers trusting it with brake control.

A spokesman for Microsoft said: “For the next generation of the Connected Car Platform, we plan to leverage the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, Azure, and Tellme. The combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform tomorrow’s cars from passive objects into intelligent assistants for both the driver and their passengers.”

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