Microsoft Corp. has developed its own custom system-on-chip for its new-generation Kinect device. The application processor is a key to unprecedented precision the sensor can provide and will naturally enable a lot of exclusive capabilities that off-the-shelf solutions just do not feature today. The new Kinect sensor is projected to enable Microsoft offer never-before-seen experiences in the living room.
The new Xbox One comes with completely redesigned Kinect sensor that features 1920*1080 RGB camera, new active infrared sensor and enhanced voice controls. The sensors of the second-generation Kinect can detect a finger movement within nanoseconds and up to six skeleton models at once, which gets the whole platform onto a brand new level of functionality. But while there are new cam and sensors, the actual heart of the second-generation Kinect is Microsoft’s own application processor.
“For the first time, the company will build its own processors based on an in-house design. The new chips will make Kinect more accurate and responsive using an imaging technology found in military gear,” said Cyrus Bamji, who played a key role in developing the silicon architecture, in an interview with Bloomberg news-agency.
The application processor inside Kinect enables Microsoft’s proprietary Time-of-Flight technology, which measures the time it takes individual photons to rebound off an object or person to create high accuracy and precision. All of this means that the new sensor recognizes precise motions and details, such as slight wrist rotation, body position, and even the wrinkles in your clothes. The software development community will benefit from the sensor’s enhanced fidelity, which will allow developers to create highly accurate solutions that see a person’s form better than ever, track objects and environments with greater detail, and understand voice commands in noisier settings than before.
It is interesting to note that Microsoft formed chip design team back in 2006. However, up to now the company has never publicly admitted its very existence and never revealed whether in-house designed semiconductors were used inside any of its devices. Nonetheless, since Microsoft decided to make more own-brand hardware, it is obvious that it will take advantage of proprietary chips.
“We are seeing a big trend towards more of the hardware makers out there, whether it is smartphones or whether it’s tablets, starting to bring more of that semiconductor function in-house. It allows them to differentiate. Everybody in the market is using the same off-the-shelf processor,” said Jon Erensen, an analyst at market-research firm Gartner.
Eventually, Microsoft will make Kinect v2 available for Windows-based PCs.