Microsoft is testing laptops with built-in Kinect technology, hinting at the company’s potential plans for its Windows 8 platform.
The Redmond, Wash.-based company may choose to license its Kinect motion sensing technology to laptop vendors as well as offering Kinect hardware for Windows. The technology replaces a laptop’s normal webcam and adds a row of sensors that track user’s movements, according to the Daily.
Kinect for the Xbox 360 has been a destination spot for hackers and developers to experiment with the technology’s capabilities outside of gaming, with the system hacked for everything from motion-capture animation to use in the surgical operating room.
Bringing the hardware to computers will allow developers to fully realize their visions, and in the process, Microsoft will be able to offer a unique experience with the Windows 8 platform that sets it apart from past iterations of the operating system.
Kinect technology in future laptops suggests motion controls will likely be a big part of Windows 8 and potential apps for the platform. If developers begin to feature the technology as a major feature of their future software, Windows 8 will develop an advantage over the Mac and the OS X operating system.
Microsoft’s technology may allow users to control their laptops in a completely new way, but that innovation will likely come with a bigger price tag. Machines with Kinect built-in will be more expensive than others, potentially stalling user adoption and scaring developers away from making innovative software that supports the technology.
However, Microsoft’s decision to also offer Kinect as a separate piece of hardware may help solve this problem. Users who buy computers without the technology built-in will have the option to pick up Kinect later if they want to tap into the full potential of Windows 8.
Analysts give early demos of Windows 8 positive reviews, calling the user interface clean and very similar to the design of its Windows Phone platform and Xbox 360 dashboard.
Microsoft will face challenges in how the company will integrate Kinect technology. It could very well be a feature that puts the operating system over the top, or else be a gimmick that most users consider an afterthought.