Gestures in a Virtual World

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Two interesting articles, each overlapping the other, both worth reading because they may change your thinking about the ways we interact with computers and the virtual world.

The first article, from the BBC, is about surgeons in a London hospital who are learning to use voice commands and hand gestures to control medical instruments. The process, based upon Microsoft’s Kinect technology (more on this in the second article), allows greater precision and higher efficiency while eliminating some sterilization issues. For certain procedures, this “touch-less” approach to medicine is likely to become the norm within the next 10 years or so.

The second article, from the NY Times, is about Microsoft’s shift from “does not condone the modification of its products” and would “work closely with law enforcement . . . to keep Kinect tamper-resistant…” to an understanding that Kinect was going to become something greater than a videogame input device, and that Microsoft might not control the ways in which Kinect would be used in the marketplace. Eventually, Microsoft decided to release a non-game version of Kinect, still bound by a range of rules that are hopelessly out of step with today’s open-everything tech development world. The story is longish, and worth reading because, well, the article’s author said it so well:

The idea of a loosely knit band of outsider creative coders forcing a massive company to rethink a crucial new product is appealing.

I suspect both articles are the result of Microsoft’s publicity machine, both supporting an expanded view of Kinect specifically and Microsoft generally. No matter. Both are interesting, and the trend is worth a few minutes of your time. As the heat in this area increases, the keyboard, mouse, and other 20th century input devices become less likely to survive, at least in their present conception.

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