While touch is pervasive way of communicating with the way we communicate with the mobile devices of today, Microsoft is working on a different interface for tomorrow.
"We (Microsoft) know we don't have anything to lose. But, our competitors have a whole lot (to lose)." This is approximately how a drunken conversation at 2AM starts. If the location for the conversation is west coast of United States, in a valley which sees more innovation than any other place on Earth – chances are that person actually knows what he or she is talking about.
After checking with several sober sources which proved reliable in the past, Microsoft is currently working on integrating the Kinect NUI (Natural User Interface) with its mobile platform using upcoming Windows Phone 8. While this is currently purely a development effort, we have been hearing that Microsoft decided to dedicate more and more resources on building the Kinect NUI to become a feature with either a launch or first or second update to its upcoming Windows Mobile 8 operating system.
Will the tech make it in Apollo or come later, that question is open – as the technology is showing to be more mature than the company thought – but there are still caveats to be solved before the technology can hit mainstream audience. However, we were told that the company execs were encouraged by the success of no other than Apple Siri, which in beta status received a lot of praise from Apple fanboys, but also regular users who like the idea of talking to the phone.
Biggest challenge for the R&D department is lack of room for Kinect cameras on smartphones: "Kinect has three cameras, one of which his infrared. We can't put an IR camera on a smartphone, and without it, NUI won't work in dark." Even though we've seen 3rd party motion detection camera videos in which regular camera can see objects in dark. However, after contacting those companies, we learned that product videos are just that – videos.
Kinect NUI is being closely tied to Microsoft TellMe, since Kinect allegedly captured more voice patterns than Apple Siri – again, according to sources in the know.
However, even if Microsoft would release a daylight only version of Kinect NUI on the smartphone, you can imagine how much attention would Microsoft receive. Furthermore, the only competitor they might have is Sony Mobile for Android OS – no other competitor has enough IP or simply development teams that could react on this innovation.
When Windows Mobile 8 or some of its successors ends up with Kinect NUI, expect Sony to follow 12-18 months later. Anybody else? If Apple is interested, it will have to seriously open its treasure chest, as Kinect IP is a software technology developed by a Microsoft subsidiary (Rare), running on camera hardware developed by Israeli firm PrimeSense, in which Microsoft invested more than a few cents.