Kinect Programmed to Replace Mouse Functions

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is in the process of making technological breakthroughs with their Kinect hands-free technology. The company has now introduced simple, real-time hand gestures that replace mouse commands.

Microsoft recently held its own 'TechFest' festival, an annual research and development showcase. At the show Microsoft unveiled a Kinect-based update to the pre-existing software development kit that will allow developers to add more hand-gesture features to their products.

Mouse Movements, Hand-Controlled Gameplay A Reality

And while Microsoft hopes that developers will introduce their own ideas for the technology, it appears the company has already been able to use Kinect to successfully perform at least one important mouse function: pinching and zooming an image or window.

In other words, rather than having to physically drag an image or window across the screen to enlarge it, users can now wave and clench their hand in front of the Kinect camera to perform this same feat on screen. (Source:

The update relies on recognizing that an individual is first making a fist (a kind of starting point for the system to work). From there, every motion made (even the slightest flick of the fingertip) registers as a command.

In addition to showing off their mouse tasks, Microsoft also promoted a game called "Jetpack Joyride" to demonstrate how the gesture-based control system could be programmed to perform specific movements within a game.

Hope For Kinect Presence in Future Laptops, Tablets

Microsoft still has much greater ambitions for the Kinect, however; the company hopes to one day use it with laptops and tablets.

Unfortunately, a number of issues have arisen. According to Craig Mundie, senior adviser to Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer, these obstacles go well beyond the standard problems associated with size and cost.

According to Mundie, "It turns out [the Kinect is] infrared, so when you go out in the sunlight, the sun is a big infrared source that drowns it out. There are a whole bunch of problems, not just miniaturization. It is designing the sensors so they actually do what you expect them to do in all environments." (Source: .

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