Tag Archives: Kinect

Breakdown Of The Patents Against Kinect & A Look At Microsoft’s Patent Portfolio

A hot, boring, lazy Friday just turned exciting. As we reported earlier, Microsoft has been sued by Ohio based Impulse Technology Limited. Impulse claims that the Xbox Kinect infringes 7 patents the company owns. I have been closely following Microsoft’s patent portfolio for quite a while. Microsoft has been filing for several (and I mean) several patent relating to body movements, gestures and Kinect. I have done a quick preliminary search to find some of the patents. There are more, the search on USPTO is more broken than their patent system.

Going through the patent applications and Impulse’s statement, the case seems more against how Kinect Fitness leverages body scanning, room environment for health stuff. The patent claims are broad and also cover some of Kinect’s key operations. Here’s what Impulse has sued Microsoft for:

The first claim in 3 of the 7 patents (6,430,997 6,876,496 & 6,308,565) is the same. Way to go patent lawyers.

A testing and training system comprising a continuous tracking system for determining changes in an overall physical location of a player, in a defined physical space; a computer operatively coupled to the tracking system for updating in real time a player virtual location in a virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space, for updating a view of the virtual space, and for providing at least one indicia of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicia is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

Patent 6,430,997 has 30 claims, some key ones:

A reactive power training system comprising: a reactive training device which provides cues to elicit responsive changes in an overall physical location of a subject in at least two dimensions; and a resistive training device; wherein the reactive training device and the resistive training device are used in a training sequence.

A method of reactive power training for a user using a reactive training device and one or more resistive training devices, comprising: performing a training sequence, wherein the performing the training sequence includes: exercising utilizing the reactive training device, to perform reactive training bouts; and performing resistive strength enhancing activities on the one or more resistive training devices, to perform resistive training bouts; wherein the reactive training bouts are alternated with the resistive training bouts.

marker worn by the subject, wherein the reactive training device tracks movement of the marker.

a transmitter worn by the subject which transmits information to the reactive training device without being physically connected to the reactive training device.

wherein the information includes an identification of the subject.

wherein the information includes the subject’s heart rate.

wherein the transmitter acts as a marker, allowing the reactive training device to track location of the subject.

Claim #2 and #3 are Kinect Fitness. The rest of the claims I’ve listed also relate to Kinect Fitness. However, Kinect does not use any such transmitter device, sensor does all the magic. Kinect Fitness however does receive feedback about the user’s body. The Kinect sensor can be considered as the reactive device in this case.

Patent 6,765,726 has 16 claims:

A multiuser physical assessment system comprising: a first tracking system for determining changes in a first overall physical location of a first user within a first physical space; a second tracking system for determining changes in a second overall physical location of a second user within a second physical space; and at least one computer operatively coupled to the tracking systems for updating user virtual locations in a virtual space corresponding to the physical locations of the users; wherein performance of at least one of the users in the virtual space is modified so as to handicap one of the users relative to the other user.

[…] first and second displays operatively coupled to the at least one computer, wherein the displays display respective views of the virtual space; wherein the displays display different views of the virtual space; wherein the tracking systems are both continuous three-dimensional tracking systems; and wherein the at least one computer updates in real time the user virtual locations in the virtual space.

[…] wherein the first view includes first virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users; and wherein the second view includes second virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users.

All claims in this application are related to how Kinect works.

Patent 6,876,496 has 20 claims:

the computer provides at least one indicium of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicium is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

the view of the virtual space includes a player icon located at the player virtual location.

the updating of the protagonist virtual location is made in response to the changes in the physical location of the player, such that the virtual protagonist and the player engage in an interactive task.

These claims, again, go on to cover how Kinect tracks the users and displays it. Instead of an icon, Kinect shows a translucent 2D figure.

Patent 7,359,121 has 27 claims. Key claims:

A method for prompting a user to engage in a physical activity, the method comprising: causing displaying of a representation of the user on a monitor, wherein the displaying of the representation includes moving the representation of the user to reflect movement of the user; causing displaying of one or more virtual objects on the monitor, wherein the displaying of the one or more virtual objects includes displaying the one or more virtual objects to prompt physical motion of the user […]

[…] displaying the virtual objects of the method includes prompting the user to perform an interception task that includes the representation of the user moving to have the representation of the user intercept at least some of the targets.

Prompting user to engage in a physical activity, is more of what Microsoft & Kinect game advertisers are doing. Having said that, this patent is about Kinect, a moving representation of the user is the 2D figure we see in games.

Patent 7,791,808 with 20 claims:

the tracking system continuously tracks an overall physical location of the user in a defined physical space corresponding to the virtual space; wherein the computer updates in real time a user virtual location in the virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space; and wherein the viewpoint of the view is from the user virtual location.

the view is a first person view

he first person view is a first person perspective view

the tracking system tracks the translations in three dimensions

the tracking system includes a beacon worn by the user

the tracking system includes a camera

All claims, except user wearing a beacon are how Kinect works.

Patent 6,749,432 with 18 claims has a funny title: Education system challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function

A method of educating comprising: prompting a person to engage in body core movement which elevates the person’s metabolic rate; and prompting the person to engage in a cognitive academic learning task while the person’s metabolic rate is elevated, wherein the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task includes displaying a view of a virtual space, and wherein the promoting to engage in body core movement and the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task both include promoting the person to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task.

he updating a view includes updating a first person perspective view of the virtual space from the virtual location

prompting to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task includes prompting the person to engage in interactive challenges that involve manipulation of objects in a virtual world by body core movement of the person in a defined physical space

further including ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation

including adjusting the prompting to engage in body core movement to maintain the metabolic rate elevation at a desired level

ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation includes monitoring the person’s heart rate

These claims would be akin to Kinect Fitness including a freaky 3D doctor telling you why you need to do certain exercises. This patent application deals with Kinect Fitness and maybe broadly apply to other games.

Patent 6,208,565 has a 100 claims. Most of these claims are slight modifications of claims in the other patents or exactly the same. Once again, way to go patent lawyers.

These are the 7 patents Impulse has sued Microsoft. Now let’s take a look at a fraction of the Kinectgesture patents Microsoft has applied for.

Patents 20110032336 20110109724 20100194872 deal with body scanning:

A device for capturing depth information of a scene, the device comprising: a camera component, wherein the camera component receives a depth image of the scene; and a processor, wherein the processor executes computer executable instructions, and wherein the computer executable instructions comprise instructions for: receiving the depth image of the scene from the camera component; determining whether the depth image includes a human target; scanning the human target to locate at least a first joint, if the depth image includes a human target […]

A 3D user scanning device, using cameras.

Patent 20110035666 is about displaying the position of a user on the screen. (Something Impulse has claimed.) The abstract of the patent says:

A capture device may capture a user’s motion and a display device may display a model that maps to the user’s motion, including gestures that are applicable for control.

A claim from the patent:

A method for determining whether to provide feedback, the method comprising: receiving image data for a scene, wherein the image data comprises depth data representative of a target’s motion or position in a physical space; comparing the depth data representative of the target’s motion or position in the physical space […]

Patent 20110085705 is about scanning props (or objects as Impulse has mentioned in their applications):

acquiring one or more color images from one or more color sensing image sensors, the step of performing prop tracking includes using color information from the one or more color images to help track the second target.

the step of performing skeletal tracking includes receiving position information regarding the second target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the first position of the first target.

the step of performing prop tracking includes receiving position information regarding the first target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the second position of the second target.

receiving orientation information from the first prop, the step of performing prop tracking uses the orientation information to help track the first prop.

Kinect allows you to scan your own skateboard and use it in a game.

Patent 20100195867 is about tracking the user as he moves. Impulse has this in their patent claims. Microsoft’s claims include focusing on the user by ignoring non-target items from the background and some pretty smart algorithms to track the user’s movements:

[…] analyzing the observed depth image with a hand-identifying algorithm configured to identify hands on the human target; and increasing relative confidence of the exemplar pose if the exemplar pose more closely places hands in a same location as the hand-identifying algorithm […]

removing non-target background information from the observed depth image includes removing depth image information outside of a sphere surrounding the target

the source includes a depth camera

the source includes stereo cameras

Patent 20100278384 complements the above patent and is about estimating the human body’s pose.

Patent 20100195869, 20100197395, 20100197400, 20100197391, 20100197392 & 20100197399 are titled Visual Target Tracking and are related to tracking the human body movements. Claim from 20100195869:

A method of tracking a human target, the method comprising: representing the human target with a machine-readable model configured for adjustment into a plurality of different poses

One of the newer patents I came across yesterday is about multi-user tracking. This is also there somewhere in Impulse’s claims. Patent 20110175809

A processor-implemented method for tracking multiple people in a motion capture system, comprising the processor-implemented steps of: tracking at least one group which includes a first group, the first group comprises peoples’ bodies in a field of view of the motion capture system, the tracking includes detecting the peoples’ bodies in the field of view

Patent 20100306685 is having the user’s avatars on screen as feedback about the user’s physical movements. Claim from the application:

method for providing feedback to a user about a computing environment, the method comprising: recognizing, using an image-based capture device, a presence of a first user in a capture area; associating a first avatar with the first user and displaying the first avatar on a display screen; recognizing aspects of the first user within the capture area; and modifying an appearance of the first avatar to provide feedback to the first user about at least one of capabilities, features, rights or permissions of the first user in the computing environment.

Most of the Microsoft patent I’ve listed here are yet to approved. Whereas Impulse has approved patents. How that plays out will have to be seen. The patents I’ve listed are only those I could find, there are more. Kinect is a product developed using 3D camera trcking technology developed by PrimeSense. I have not looked into patent held by them or whether the patents were  transferred  to Microsoft.

Microsoft Sued Over Kinect For Infringing Seven Patents

Impulse Technology Ltd., an Ohio company has sued Microsoft in Delaware’s federal court alleging that the Kinect for Xbox 360 infringes on seven of its patents. Kinect for Xbox 360 is a motion sensing input device for the Xbox 360 gaming console that enables users to control and interact with the gaming console using only gestures and spoken commands. The suit alleges that Kinect infringes on Impulse Technology’s patents for technology for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space.

Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect is based on software technology developed internally by Rare, a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios owned by Microsoft, and on range camera technology by Israeli developer PrimeSense. The Kinect sensor provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition capabilities.

The suit claims that Impulse Technology informed Microsoft of their patents in March 2011, however, Microsoft has still indulged in direct, inducing, and contributory infringement.’ The seven patents have been issued from 2001 to last year. In addition to Microsoft, a slew of other companies who make games designed for Kinect – including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Sega, and Konami – were named as defendants.

Impulse Technology is seeking a permanent injunction, damages, treble damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. Microsoft hasn’t commented on the specific charges. The suit was filed on July 1, 2011 and was recently reported on Law360.

Kinect was first announced on June 1, 2009 at E3 2009 under the code name Project Natal and was launched in the US on November 4, 2010. After selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days, the Kinect holds the Guinness World Record of being the fastest selling consumer electronics device’.’

Avatar Kinect for Healthcare

While the developers are diving into the recently released Kinect SDK for PC after a slew of Kinect hacks since its launch, Microsoft Research has developed a great adaptation of Avatar Kinect for healthcare implementations.

avatar-kinect-for-healthcare

The concept prototype was demoed by Craig Mundie at Pacific Health Summit in Seattle last week. The goal of the Pacific Health Summit is to connect science, industry, and policy for a healthier world. Incidentally, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a partner at the event.

Craig talked about the advances in technology that help drive revolutionary changes in healthcare around the world. He illustrated several examples from the healthcare industry that extend resources beyond the traditional health facilities and the ones that help analyze patient data. Microsoft has worked with the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. to undertake a study to uncover patterns in the data and calculate risk factors for patients from massive amounts of clinical data.

The futuristic prototype health-care application that Craig demoed is based on Avatar Kinect. Avatar Kinect is a soon-to-be released virtual conferencing technology for Xbox using Kinect’s motion sensor originally  shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011. Craig’s demo had a hypothetical example of a support group for people with diabetes, meeting virtually using the technology. Avatar Kinect allows you to create your cartoon-style representations of people with realistic facial expressions and motions controlled in real time through natural movement and speech.

Although the demo looked awesome, Craig Mundie did not divulge any dates or timelines to bring this product to the healthcare industry.

An Innovative Education Initiative using Kinect

KinectEDucation is a community-driven initiative for developers, teachers, students, and other education stakeholders to promote the use of Kinect for Xbox360 for gesture-based applications for teaching in classrooms. The project aims to pioneer this new dimension of learning in education and invites the community for making contributions, whether it be an idea, code, suggestion, or anything else relevant to the use of Kinect in education.

kinect-education

The project is a brainchild of Johnny Kissko, a leading expert at integrating innovative technology in existing learning environments. The project was inspired by KinectHacks with a vision of gesture-based learning applications in classrooms within the next few years.

As yet, FAAST, a free software developed by the Institute of Creative Technologies was recommended. The software allows anyone to develop Kinect-friendly applications by creating key bindings. Now that the official Kinect SDK (Software Development Kit) is available for PC, developers can develop their own applications for the PC and Xbox that employ Kinect’s gesture-based functionality and can transform learning in classrooms.

The project aims to take existing applications like Google Earth or calculator or even a piano and integrate them with Kinect. This would help develop and deliver gesture-based learning opportunities with the bank of software already in existence.

The project is open-source and involves the community for the benefit of public education. Integrating educational Kinect applications represents a blended classroom model, where innovative learning opportunities can be explored within the controlled setting demanded by the structure of public education. You can contribute to the community in several ways:

  • Download and post Kinect applications for education
  • Participate in forum discussions
  • Showcase real-life examples of Kinect in education

KinectEDucation

Kinect is the Fastest Selling Consumer Electronics Device but Here’s Why It is Awesome

The Kinect might be the fastest selling and the most talked about consumer electronics device but it is more than just that. It is a honeypot for developers and the way developers have jumped on to the Kinect SDK bandwagon, it just assures that more awesomeness is on its way.

Kinect attracts a varied class of the tech-savvy consumer world. What developers are doing on the very first day of the Kinect SDK release will mesmerize you  nonetheless.

We have seen bits and pieces of Kinect hacks and things that were tried out until now. You can see them too in this YouTube video (NSFW) . Keep in mind that all these hacks involved the Xbox 360.

However, what happened yesterday was very different. A kinect SDK for Windows PC means that now, you can use the Kinect SDK without actually owning an Xbox 360. Just the Kinect will do! Ain’t it just great? The SDK released for Windows 7 PCs is still in beta and is aimed at enthusiasts.

Well, it is great and this came in to prove that greatness. The Channel 9 Code Camp at Redmond was spilling awesomeness for the last two days and the best part is this development spree is focused beyond games. You can check some samples in development here.

A Technet blog reports,

Remember Pong? One of the earliest arcade games got an pretty serious service pack this morning you! The human body became the controller of the paddles as two guys from  Lewis and Clark built a natural user interface version of Pong that used the skeletal tracking capability. Nick Wilson and Julian Dale showed up with no experience of coding on Windows both being  Emacs developers. Within 24 hours they’d both picked up Visual Studio, learnt C# and built their version of Pong. They were so impressed they told me they were heading back to college and planned to use this with their football team and saw a ton of potential to track quarterbacks in real-time and use it for coaching purposes.

But what took everyone aback (literally) at on of the lobbies of this code camp was this.

Now, we have known for years why MSFT is doing this.

What is left to be seen is what developers are doing with the audio capabilities. Kinect has gained popularity all for its camera hacks. The audio can also create wonders as Josh Blake has proved already.

The Kinect and its SDK for Windows will be the most awesome DIY hardware for indie developers and with this SDK, MS has unleashed a whole new world of possibilities that moves closer to Microsoft’s dream of the future.

NUAds: Microsoft’s Interactive Ad Platform For Xbox Kinect

Advertisements are a major source for revenues and one would expect ads to evolve with the platform they are being served on. Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect is about body gestures and voice, like iOS is about touch. For iOS, Apple introduced iAds, an advertising platform for app developers to create apps that offer an interactive and beautiful experience for the user. Similarly, Microsoft seems to be planning their own advertising platform for the Xbox that will leverage Kinect’s capabilities.

Called NUAds, which I assume could mean Natural User Ads (NUI or Natural User Interface is something Microsoft has been talking about for quite a while.) A recent trademark application filed by Microsoft explains what NUAds is:

Advertising services, namely, promoting and marketing the goods and services of others through online interactive video games by enabling consumers to interact with third-party advertising content through voice or body gestures via computer game console and sensor devices

As the description explains, NUAds will be in-game advertisements where the user can interact with the products or features being advertised using Kinect’s body tracking and voice control. Even though a lot of us don’t like ads interrupting  our activities, adding gesture control could change the experience.

Microsoft will be having some policies on how game publishers will be using NUAds and we shall share more information as we get it.

This is the future of advertisements, Minority Report style.

Microsoft at the E3: Force Kinect Kinect Kinect And Oh Some More Kinect Into Everything

Do not get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of the Kinect peripheral from Microsoft. It is a revolutionary piece of hardware which will most likely pave the way for the extremely high-tech gesture-based input that we have seen in the realm Science Fiction (such as Minority Report, for example). Its use in video games for the Xbox 360 is fabulous in most cases, and is an instant party ice breaker, or a great way to relax (not really!) with friends and family. It’s the Wiimote all grown up. There have also been numerous modifications and excellent uses of this brilliant little peripheral in a lot of places.

Kinect_logo_print

Yes, the Kinect is a great peripheral. However, it is just that for now. The Xbox controller is still the controller for games. It worked for Nintendo when they launched the Wii. It was great it was fun and it was casual.

I would like you, Mr. Doubter-of-why-Kinect-should-not-be-in-everything to play a semi-serious game such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars using a Kinect. I had to stifle the biggest cringe of my life when the presenter jumped’ and said Lightsaber On!.

The Kinect works on some games admirably. Dance Central, for example is one of the prime reasons one should consider buying a Kinect (if one harbors a secret or open love for terpsichore). But, for some other games there is absolutely no need for it to even be there. How would you play Minecraft on an Xbox 360 with the Kinect, is my question. They way things work with Minecraft, your real arms will wear down sooner than the miner’s as you are mining for diamonds!

KinectSensor

Of course, I understand that there will always be takers for these games since they look cool, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, going for the development of rather horrendous Kinect titles while sacrificing the development of better titles is not how a company caters to its core customer. The Kinect on Fable is not immersive, but slightly dorky. The Kinect on Star Wars looks like what my imaginary younger brother would stick his tongue out at.

What would work well (and has been put to good use) is using the Kinect as a peripheral rather than a main game controller. Perhaps using the mic to issue voice orders (like it has been implemented in Mass Effect 3), or using gestures to give orders to your AI teammates while continuing to play with the controller.

It is quite sad that Microsoft is trying desperately to cash in on the interest of the Kinect. It will lose its charm frightfully soon if it is forced down our throats in every possible way.

Are you listening, Microsoft?

Try Xbox Kinect At Your Home Before Buying: New Microsoft India Campaign

xbox-try-buy

In a very interesting campaign, the Xbox India division is allowing users to try the Xbox 360 and Kinect at their homes and then decide if they want to buy it. The facility is available in partnership with an electronics retail chain E Zone and limited to only 3 outlets (and 2 cities) across India. Currently available only at:

  1. E Zone: Oberoi Mall, Mumbai
  2. E Zone: Powai (Mumbai)
  3. E Zone: Koramangala Mall, Bengaluru

This is a clever marketing strategy from people at Microsoft India. Though the fine print hasn’t been shared, enthusiasts and casual gamers should indeed give it a try and then perhaps buy.

via Xbox 360 India

Microsoft Pilots Xbox Kinect For Interactive Education In South African School

Microsoft shared details on how they are using Xbox Kinect in a rural South Africa school for education. The project involves, Microsoft’s Live@Edu, a NGO — SchoolNet SA who helped develop the training material along with the local experts.

For those who remember, Xbox Kinect was known as Project Natal and the school in South African province KwaZulu-Natal is where the pilot has started.

Here’s a video shared by the team:

New Kinect Sensor Being Worked On, From The Inside

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.


Kinect Sales Over 10 Million; Bags a Guinness World Record

Xbox KinectThe Xbox Kinect has been a very popular device for users of the Xbox 360 gaming console and has also attracted a very active modder community. It has had record sales since launch which have been vetted by Guinness World Records.

Boosted by Christmas, the Kinect had sold over 8 million units by the first week of January 2011, with an average of 133,333 units sold daily, in its first 60 days of sale. It has been confirmed as the fastest selling consumer electronics device by Guinness.

“The sales figures here speak for themselves,” said Gaz Deaves, Gaming Editor for Guinness World Records. “According to independent research, no other consumer electronics device sold faster within a 60-day time span, which is an incredible achievement considering the strength of the sector.”

Today, Microsoft confirmed that the Kinect has sold over 10 million units. Sales of the Kinect sensor and Kinect games are only expected to rise further. After a long time, Microsoft finally has a huge hit on its hands.

via Xbox and Guinness

Microsoft to Publish SDK for the Kinect Controller

Microsoft’s Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 has been a huge hit in the international market. Unlike the Nintendo Wii controllers and the Sony PlayStation Move and the PlayStation Eye, the Kinect allowed players to use their entire body as a controller. The Kinect has a 3D depth sensor implemented by two monochrome CMOS cameras and an infrared light as well as an RGB camera, allowing for depth-sensitive motion detection and facial recognition capabilities. In effect, it allowed players to drivea steering wheel of a car, use the main menu of the Xbox 360 using gestures and, of course, dance to Dance Central.

kinectplain

However, all this was possible only with the Xbox 360 console. PC gamers were loth to admire the brilliance of the system. It’s not supported on my platform, shouted some, while others hacked the system and made some extremely cool user interfaces a la Minority Report. Microsoft listened to all those hungry shouts and more importantly looked at the achievements of some brilliant minds working with the Kinect. They decided to release the Software Development Kit (SDK) for the Kinect.

KinectBoxHead

This SDK will give access to the secrets of the gesture-based game controller without hacking it thoroughly(!) Microsoft has stated that initially the SDK will be available for personal use (probably with the XNA Game Studio), but a commercial version might be released later.

Rejoice new age gamers! A new era might begin with gesture based gaming soon!

Demos of Windows Phone 7 Features Showed At MWC 2011

We already told you about the upcoming software upgrades Microsoft plans this year for their WP7 platform. Among the key features expected are:

  • Copy/Paste in the first update expected in March
  • Multitasking
  • IE9 Mobile with HTMLS
  • Twitter integration to the People hub
  • Kinect integration

It was surprising of Microsoft to not implementing copy/paste in the first release and there have been a few explanations given but bowing to pressure, they decided to push copy/paste as part of the first update to Windows Phone 7. Here’s a demo of the copy/paste feature:

In many ways, Microsoft took two steps back with WP7 by not implementing copy/paste & multitasking which are both part of Windows Mobile but with time Microsoft plans to fill in these gaps. At MWC 2011, Microsoft demonstrated their multitasking implementation in WP7. Here’s a short demo (view around 2:50):

Similar to the cards in WebOS, press and hold action on the back button will launch the multitasking UI allowing you to browse through the apps running in the background. Audio applications will be able to continue playing in the background as part of multitasking.

With their desktop version of Internet Explorer finally being standard compliant to a large extent and fast to use, Microsoft will be bringing IE9 with HTML5 to Windows Phone 7 too. At MWC 2011, Microsoft showed a performance demo of IE9 Mobile:

Microsoft had earlier demonstrated the ability to continue playing a games across the PC, Xbox and WP7. At MWC 2011, Microsoft showed Kinect, Xbox LIVE and WP7 integration adding a new dimension to multiplayer gaming. The video demo shows two users throwing balls using their WP7 devices while the third player is defending himself using the Kinect & Xbox. Video:

The People hub that allows you to integrate your contacts with their Windows Live and Facebook profiles to fetch updates and contact details will add twitter as well. Microsoft posted a screenshot showing twitter updates of an individual along with Facebook and Windows Live updates:

wp7-twitter

If Microsoft is able to push out these updates by year end, Microsoft should have a mobile platform with all features one would expect in a modern OS.

Activate3D wants to increase your immersion in games

Motion Sensing is all the rage these days, and it’s all Nintendo’s fault. Starting with the Nintendo Wii’s Wiimotes and eventually ending up with the Sony PlayStation Move controller and the ever-modded Microsoft Kinect, motion-based gameplay has come a very long way. We all have seen how Microsoft’s revolutionary motion-capturing controller has allowed for a lot of awesome hacks and mods. So what could possibly better all of these brilliant pieces of tech?

activate

A new kind of software technology, of course! Activate3D has come up with a new piece of tech called Intelligent Character Motion (ICM) technology. The ICM basically allows the player to feelthrough the virtual world as if they were in it the ultimate goal of most of these motion control input devices. Based on the input (via a Kinect sensor or a Wii wand or any other motion-sensing device) and the surrounds of the virtual avatar, the ICM predicts the most accurate action based on the context. This means that climbing ropes, walking around and swinging on bars would be intuitive.

ICM has been developed after a lot of academic research in this field. CEO and co-founder Jeff Levy said:-

The next few years will see huge advancements in motion input devices.   Translating these new paradigms into compelling and fun games will be challenging.   We are excited about the possibilities that ICM will bring to these next generation games.

We sure are looking forward to immersive gaming based on this new technology!

Minecraft + Kinect = Internet Glory

The Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing gaming system is probably one of the finer and sharper tools in comparison to the blunt, uncivilized clubs that are the PSMove and Wiimote. Actually no; I was kidding in a bid to start a console war on the comments thread of this post. In fact the Kinect is the most different piece of equipment in that it uses a infrared depth sensing camera (and some other technological wizardry) so that your movements in front of the camera translate into movements in the game.

Minecraft, on the other hand is E Lego, as my friend eloquently put it. You have blocks, lots and lots of blocks and you can build a lot of things from within the game world. The maximum surface area achievable on Minecraft is eight times that of the surface area of the Earth. People have been busy building a lot of absolutely gorgeous automated machines, gargantuan sculptures and horsing around with the source code to make ducks sound like they hate you.

minkin2

That is all very cool but what have the hackers been up to? More importantly, what is the connection between the previous two paragraphs? The title puts it well, I believe. Nathan Viniconis, a retro cool Python programmer (retro cool was our addition) did something completely awesome. He took a Kinect and made it take a picture of him. He then made Python scripts to import a pixel version of the 3D image into Minecraft, resulting in some gloriously blown up sculptures of him and people/things around him.

minkin3

Hit up his website (which is under severe pressure from RPS, Kotaku and Reddit) to get the code. Also, tell us if you actually implemented all that Python-fu!