Microsoft India Indulges in a Bollywood Chase

Yes, Techie-Buzz is still a technology blog. We still couldn’t help having Shahrukh Khan feature twice here in the last couple of months. In October, I wrote about Shahrukh Khan’s aggressive digital marketing for his film RA.One. Now, for his upcoming release, Don 2, Microsoft India in partnership with Excel Entertainment, the producers of the film, has launched a unique contest which gives winners a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet SRK and travel to Berlin.


To enter the Meet the Don2: Mission Berlin contest, you need to buy one of the Microsoft products Windows 7 PC, Windows Phone, Microsoft Office 2010, or Xbox 360 from a retail store in the contest period and then answer five simple questions and write a catchy slogan at The contest runs from November 25th to December 20th, 2011. If your entry is shortlisted, you will be asked to send a copy of the invoice as a proof of purchase.

The first 1000 correct and complete entries will win 4 tickets to the first day first show of Don 2 to watch it with family and friends. Top five winning families with best slogan will get a chance to meet Shahrukh Khan in person. And one of the luckiest family amongst these will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the beautiful, historic city of Berlin. Don 2 is shot in Berlin and the sightseeing arrangements include trips to shooting spots!

Well, Microsoft India just made the futile chase to Don possible!

LOVEFiLM to Bring Streaming Movies and TV shows to Xbox LIVE

LOVEFiLM, Europe’s largest subscription service for streaming movies and TV shows over the Internet and sending DVDs by post, launches on Xbox LIVE tomorrow. This would allow millions of Xbox users instant access to the movies they want to watch. LOVEFiLM is an Amazon company.


Xbox LIVE members will be able to instantly watch thousands of movies via LOVEFiLM Instant the movie streaming service including exclusive content. LOVEFiLM Instant is already available via a huge range of devices including PCs, iPad, Internet-connected TV sets, Blu-ray players, tablets, and games consoles.

It is an exciting day for LOVEFiLM customers and an auspicious day for the TV entertainment industry as a whole. Launching LOVEFiLM Instant on Xbox 360 and Kinect means bringing the service to a million more living rooms a huge achievement.

– Simon Calver, CEO, LOVEFiLM

With Netflix launching in the UK next year (no announcement whether it would be available on the Xbox as yet), and BBC coming to Xbox LIVE next year, LOVEFiLM’s inclusion as an integrated film service provider for Xbox LIVE is well timed. LOVEFiLM is all set for its ambition to bring the service to as many homes as possible. Also, Kinect for Xbox 360 will transform the way people use LOVEFiLM Instant. With Kinect, people can effortlessly control the service using voice commands and gestures to search and enhance movie-watching experience. The LOVEFiLM app comes with a free 30 day trial and after that will require a subscription.

Happy 10th Birthday Xbox!

When Sony announced the PS 2 In March, 1999, Microsoft had no presence in consoles, and only a small piece in the game business with niche titles for PCs like Microsoft Flight Simulator. The long standing vision of Bill Gates: a PC on every desk’ was near, but Microsoft had no presence in the living rooms. Sony had 47 percent of the game console market with PlayStation and had left erstwhile leaders, Sega and Nintendo, behind.


This was to change as announced on September 20, 2000. J. Allard, then general manager of Xbox, and John O’Rourke, director of Xbox marketing, unveiled the logo for the upcoming game console at a news conference in San Francisco.

November 14, 2001 was a special night. Bill Gates and his men were at the New York’s Times Square waiting for the midnight for the official launch. The excitement was mixed with fear. It wasn’t a software program this time. Shortly after midnight, Bill Gates handed over the first Xbox video game system ever to Edward Glucksman at the Toys “R” Us store.

Bill Gates with Xbox NYC 2001

Microsoft sold 1.5 million Xbox units in the US between the launch and the end of calendar year 2001, making Xbox the best-selling video game console launch. On March 14, 2002, several midnight events throughout Europe marked the launch of Xbox in 16 European countries and Australia. Microsoft’s second console, the Xbox 360, and the associated game business rake in more than $1 billion in profits every year now.


Xbox Live Poster 2002

Microsoft introduced Xbox LIVE in November 2002 and sold 150,000 Xbox LIVE Starter Kits in the service’s first week. Xbox LIVE currently has 35 million members worldwide who spend 2.1 billion hours a month on the service. It is one of the earliest successes in the social market, and also made online console gaming a reality.


June 14, 2010 marked the Microsoft’s next bet in the gaming and entertainment business. However, this time it wasn’t a business diversification, but a technological progression. Microsoft demonstrated a controller-free experience that allows players to jump, dodge and kick their way through exciting adventures, at E3 2010 in Los Angeles. It was called Project Natal.

Times Square

The night of November 3, 2010 was different than the one 9 years ago. Bill Gates wasn’t there at the Times Square. The square, however, was draped in purple and Microsoft hosted a dance party with thousands to celebrate the launch of Project Natal, now branded as Kinect for Xbox 360. The crowd lined up to be among the first to buy Kinect at midnight at the Toys “R” Us store in Times Square. Kinect for Xbox 360 set a Guinness World Record as the fastest-selling consumer electronic device, selling 8 million units in 60 days.

Microsoft: The Future is Delicious

Remember the Bill Gates-Seinfeld ads that were aired before the popular I’m a PC’ campaign by Microsoft? The ads, with no product mention or any geeky conversation ended with the line: The future is delicious’.

I love the line. Yes, I do. Concept cars, technology vision videos, and even the scenarios in science fiction movies have been reasons of many of orgasms I have had. Anyway, do you notice a pattern in all these desires? The keywords are: concept, vision, and fiction. Well, that hurts. However, Microsoft’s peek into the future is built around current products and technologies and looks a certain reality in few months.

In the past, the focus for living room has been entertainment and electronic appliances like home-theatre systems and entertainment/gaming consoles like Xbox. The time has now changed and along with consumer interests the industry has also seen a transformation in terms of technologies and offerings. Traditional broadcast and cable TV have made way for time-shifted and on-demand TV via DVRs and other devices. DVD rentals have been replaced by on-demand movie delivery via services such as Netflix and Hulu. Watching videos on sites like YouTube almost equals the time spent watching TV series.

Xbox presents a wide array of entertainment options games, movies, music, TV shows, sports programming, services like Netflix and Hulu, and programming and on-demand options available through cable and satellite providers. By converging the Xbox’s catalogue with Bing’s deep search expertise, Microsoft Tellme’s voice technology, and the magic of Kinect, Microsoft hopes to give the consumers the power of simplicity, discovery, and personal choice in your living rooms with the people you care about.

Watch this video by Microsoft that is inspired by their philosophy in this space: All the entertainment you want, with the people you care about, made easy. Delicious indeed!

Kinect Fun Labs Launches Two New Experiences

Kinect Fun Labs lets you discover and play with the newest advances in Kinect technology. These innovative applications (called gadgets) showcase new advancements in the controller-free device’s technology. Kinect Fun Labs was launched at the E3 conference earlier this year, and has a growing catalog of controller-free experiences. This week, Kinect Fun Labs is launching two new experiences: Avatar Kinect and Kinect Sparkler.

Kinect Fun Labs

Kinect Fun Labs plans to release new gadgets on a regular basis. The gadgets are meant to showcase innovations in Kinect technology in an approachable way. These fun, creative experiences allow consumers to get a sneak preview of interesting capabilities of Kinect today instead of waiting until it’s in full-blown games.

Avatar Kinect

Avatar Kinect is available today and lets you interact with your friends via your personalized avatar. You can hang out with up to seven other friends in 24 virtual stages ranging from a late-night talk show set to outer space to a sports tailgate party. Kinect’s camera tracks gestures and facial expressions eyebrow raises, smiles, belly laughs and all.

Avatar Kinect makes cyber socializing more real. Apart from random conversations with friends, you can host virtual events or create your own animated shows. Avatar Kinect is free for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who have Kinect. It is also available to non-Gold subscribers for 45 days to try.

Kinect Sparkler

Kinect Sparkler, available later this week, lets players use their fingers to draw sparkling lines that whirl glowing, gold stars in front of, behind, and around 3-D photographs of themselves. Kinect Sparkler will cost 240 points on Xbox LIVE.

Users can share creations from both Avatar Kinect and Sparkler with the wave of a hand on the Kinect Fun Labs Live friends feed or uploading to KinectShare allows users to share their creations on Facebook or via email. It also allows users to download their creations to their computers.

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.


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.


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


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.