The Xbox Kinect accessory for the Xbox 360 changed Microsoft’s fortunes. The company suddenly got recognized as an innovative company and bagged quite a few awards for the Kinect. One of the factors responsible for Kinect’s success are the community projects. Microsoft has not sued any of the hackers unlike Sony and in fact released a SDK for developers to play around with the Kinect. But what’s next?
Knowing Microsoft, the next iteration is usually under discussions by the time a version ships out and I came across two job posting that clearly indicate that the next Kinect sensor is well underway and Microsoft is looking to change the guts. Here are excerpts from job postings:
The optical engineer will be responsible for designing and specifying interface requirements among opto-mechanical system, modules, and components [...]
should have a working knowledge of radiometry, photometry, and optical testing, and apply these skills to identify critical to quality metrics for imaging and illumination systems.
[...] will also be responsible for qualification of injection molded lenses, accessory components, camera module, and solid state light sources.
Opto-mechanical systems are tiny mechanical circuits, much like the motors in the Kinect that follow you around. Another application:
responsibilities of this position are focused on specifying, designing, implementing and verifying subsystems in the sensor electrical design. This includes owning the part selections, schematic capture, PCB layout, BOM, and cost analysis of the subsystem design.
The subsystems include high speed busses (RGB, IR, USB, I2S), memory, audio/video interfaces, system clocking, power and thermal management, and misc. analog/digital circuitry.
This job application talks about the internal circuits of the Kinect.