It is not a secret that Microsoft Corp. pins a lot of hopes onto its Kinect device and derivative motion sensing technologies But while the company does not only sell Kinect for Windows sensor, but also encourages PC makers to integrate the tech into devices, there are a number of problems with those sensors.
In a partnership with a third-party company, Microsoft has already managed to integrate Kinect into an ultra-large touch-screen television as well as some other devices. However, Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to make Kinect-like sensors smaller and cheaper, so that it was possible to build them into various mobile devices for the mass market.
"You want to be as cheap as possible and physically as small as possible. My dream is to get a Kinect into the bezel of something like this [Surface tablet]. It is not gonna happen tomorrow, but we can see a path towards that sort of thing,” said Craig Mundie, senior advisor to the Microsoft CEO, in a conversation with The Verge web-site.
Kinect-like sensors are not expensive to manufacture, therefore, provided that they bring value to the end-user by improving experience, numerous PC makers would gladly integrate them into their products even as the market is becoming extremely sensitive to costs and the competition for low prices heats up. Unfortunately, there are other problems with motion sensors based on IR [infrared] and RGB cameras: they cannot operate correctly in the daylight.
"It turns out it is infrared so when you go out in the sunlight the sun is a big infrared source that drowns it out. There is a whole bunch of problems, not just miniaturization, in designing the sensors so they actually do what you expect them to do in all of the environments,” explained Mr. Mundie.
While Microsoft is clearly serious about improving its Kinect sensor, it remains to be seen how supportive will the company be to third-party motion-sensing technologies, such as Leap Motion or Tobii, or other custom solutions.
Motion sensing capabilities are among the major strength that Microsoft has over Apple when it comes to consumer-oriented technologies. The latter may introduce its own motion-sensing technology when it unveils the highly-anticipated Apple TV in the coming years.