Microsoft is looking to integrate its Kinect motion sensor technology into television sets, according to reports.
The software giant is reportedly in the early stages of discussions with TV hardware manufacturers to licence its Kinect technology. The Daily reports that manufacturers such as Vizio and Sony are both talking to Microsoft to discuss the possibility of including the technology in their next-generation television sets. The site speculates that a Kinect-enabled TV would likely work with a local PC running Windows 8 and allow for gesture-based TV control.
Microsoft’s Xbox console allows Kinect users to control TV shows using their voice or by gestures. The software maker is currently on the verge of delivering a massive overhaul to its dashboard software to provide nearly 40 different live TV stations. Microsoft is also preparing to make new Kinect for Windows hardware available in early 2012. The optimized hardware includes components for PC scenarios. Microsoft is planning to shorten the USB cable to ensure reliability across a range of computers. The company will also include a small dongle to help ease coexistence with other USB devices. The new firmware updates for the Kinect will enable the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimetres in front of the device without losing any precision. Microsoft calls this “Near Mode” and the company hopes it will enable a whole new class of “up close” apps that have not been made available previously.
Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows plans could be part of the rumored Kinect for TV manufacturer plans. Microsoft has made no secret of its plans to position Xbox as the core to its entertainment strategy. If Microsoft is planning to bake Kinect into TVs then it will surely make the integration compatible with the company’s Xbox console, something that Sony would not likely agree to given its own efforts with the PlayStation 3. Whatever Microsoft has planned, it’s clear the company is serious about the future of Kinect across Windows and Xbox and maybe TV too.