The Future is in Your Game Console

bing screen shot

Isn’t if funny how the basics of science fiction are already in use today?

From the earliest days of Star Trek to movies like The Minority Report, people have manipulated displays on surface tops or in air. Even two years ago, it still seemed far away, according to “Microsoft’s Storyteller,” Steve Clayton (@stevecla).

But now the technology seems closer than ever, and the building blocks of facial recognition and depth perception are in use on the Microsoft Kinect game console, he said.

Editor of Next at Microsoft and former Director of Cloud Strategy, Clayton is a 13-year veteran at the software giant and is now based at company HQ in Redmond, Wash. He was at the IxDA meet up (@ixdadublin) last night and telling how Microsoft Research is working on the next generation of computing.

In terms of search, Clayton outlined some of the capabilities Bing have developed. Looking up a flight at Bing Travel, for example, will return a search screen with some new options. On the left hand side are options to help you narrow the search. But there are now tools that attempt to predict how prices will change based on millions of queries of airline websites. Unfortunately, not all destinations — Dublin, for example — have this feature yet.

Noting how people are visual, Clayton compared a Google query for LED televisions against the same thing on Bing Shopping. The Microsoft engine brings up images in a nod at how we browse in a store.

Meanwhile, on a PC, facial recognition software can be used to catalog data. Clayton tagged one of his photos with his daughter’s name. He uploaded some more, and in the background, Windows saw that new images had been uploaded and analyzed them. The operating system then flagged the additions to the end user and asked if they should be tagged with his daughter’s name too.

The most far-reaching interactions with technology, however, will come from a computer’s ability to track movement, Clayton said. Two years ago, the technology in the Kinect was extremely expensive, only on half a dozen models, and still in a lab, he said. Now the boxes cost $150 and there are 10 million in circulation.

With trends continuing towards miniaturziation and lower prices, the potential uses are enormous, Clayton said. Showing the video below, he said it is two years old. But looking back over that time, Clayton added that progress is already visible on many of the concepts.


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