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Some Windows 8 Laptops May Come With Built-In Kinect Sensors 140

Posted by timothy
from the ah-kin-see-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes to point out reports that Asus is "working on a new laptop that will include Kinect gestures and will be compatible with Windows 8," and adds, "What does this mean for the consumer? Portable gestures in Windows 8!" Wired has an article based on the same report, which mentions also the prospect of devices incorporating alternative gesture-tracking software from SoftKinectic and others.
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Some Windows 8 Laptops May Come With Built-In Kinect Sensors

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:37PM (#38852477)
    I hope they make it have fine enough resolution it will work for challenged people.
    • by Vecanti (2384840) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:42PM (#38852513)
      I have Parkinson's you insensitive clod!
    • by EdIII (1114411) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:43PM (#38852937)

      You know I was confused for a moment because I work with "challenged" people all the time, until I realized you might have meant physically challenged people.

      Seriously though, how is extra resolution on the kinect sensor going to help physically challenged people? I know some people that have challenges like that and I don't see how extra resolution is going to help with recognizing their hand gestures. I would think that training the software would be far more effective and required because each challenged person is going to have different "quirks" to their movements that need to be learned.

      Having that sensor alone as a standard on laptops going forward, regardless of resolutions, seems to open the doors for software to help all sorts of people interact with their computers more effectively and easily.

      Of course, ironically, one of the last articles had a poster with ALS being lambasted because he did not take the time to cut and paste from his blog instead of just linking to it. The Jerk! I know right? Would extra resolution help with somebody like Stephen Hawking to recognize facial twitches reliably?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Forget that. I want to have a password in the form of an interpretive dance.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I hope they make it have fine enough resolution it will work for challenged people.

      It could.

      One of the interesting things about Kinect is that it has two VGA imagers - an IR one (for depth) and an RGB one (for visuals). The problem is that the Xbox360's USB port can't handle the data required so the IR imager is only generating QVGA images. The end result of this is fine details like hands are resolved only into well, blocks. It's why there are no finger gestures - there's insufficient depth information to

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      If it works as "well" as some of the other camera software [youtube.com] I wouldn't bet the farm on it buddy. of course trying to support people with physical problems is a royal bitch anyway, I ended up having to get one of those graphics pads with a ton of shortcuts for a relative who has some days of trouble typing because every kind of voice recognition software i tried couldn't make heads or tails out of what he said because his breathing treatments caused just enough changes to his voice day to day to throw the sof

    • by xmorg (718633)

      And even more amazing if you could disable it.

  • With the big changes in windows 8 I don't think alot of people will want it right a way.

    • Doubt it. When Vista came out, there were tons of laptops people wanted to buy explicitly to wipe Vista and put XP on them, but the few I knew that tried had a ton of driver issues and all sorts of other problems. Granted, this was within the first month or so of Vista launch, so it could have taken a while for the XP drivers for the hardware to get out there, but it was pretty broken at first.

      I would expect similar issues with Windows 8 hardware, especially the Kinect sensors. I wouldn't be surprised if

      • It wont be the same and Windows 7 will be there. That was only true for the first 3 months of Vista where OEMS had a rude awakening.

        I am struggling to get my parents to leave XP. There excuse is its a new computer they bought in Christmas 2007 ( a year after Vista). My father is not a computere genius but he reads the news and knows Vista was a POS and Dell advertised their XP 64 line of XPS for consumers and not just business users.

        Most OEMs this time arround will learn the lesson and offer both or have dr

        • I am struggling to get my parents to leave XP. There excuse is its a new computer they bought in Christmas 2007 ( a year after Vista). My father is not a computere genius but he reads the news and knows Vista was a POS and Dell advertised their XP 64 line of XPS for consumers and not just business users.

          I think your father made a good decision there. Dell XPS with XP64 sounds like a nice classic combination. On the other hand I personally avoid XP installations so I understand your standpoint too.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        I'm confident Microsoft is working really hard with their hardware partners to ensure that their innovative W8 platforms are in no way compatible with prior versions of Windows and cannot be made so. They've learned this lesson well. The locked bootloader requirement for WoA should be your first clue that they don't want people buying this stuff for unapproved uses. Avoid.
        • by rhook (943951) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @04:44AM (#38855435)

          Secure boot is only required for the ARM version of Windows 8. MS has explicitly said that you'll be able to install any OS you want on x86 based Windows 8 machines. Do some research before you make accusations and you won't make yourself look like a fool.

          http://www.extremetech.com/computing/114173-windows-8-secure-boot-calm-down-microsoft-is-simply-copying-apple [extremetech.com]

          • It's because W8 platforms will come with new devices. And these new devices will require drivers. And those drivers will magically be unavailable for prior versions of Windows, and Linux - as prior versions of Windows have done less successfully. It will be some thinly veiled part of the logo requirement. Sometimes it's because when you get a new PC your printer/scanner/MFD manufacturer would just prefer you buy a new one, or has gone out of business or whatever. Sometimes it's because the drivers for t

            • by rhook (943951)

              You don't do any research before making stuff up do you? Windows 8 works with Windows 7 drivers. Same as Windows 7 can use Vista drivers. Perhaps in the future you should do some research before you go spouting out inaccurate information?

    • Most consumers use the version of Windows that came with their PC so the vast majority of buyers of new PCs will be using Windows 8. And seeing as Windows 7 appears to have gone down rather well with most Windows users, I think Windows 8 probably will too. It's not drastically different on the outside compared to Windows 7 except for the inclusion of Metro UI, which today's average smartphone / tablet type user might actually like.
      • Metro UI is touch based and most laptops don't have touch screens and I hope windows 8 will have more of the older windows 7 desktop the betas cut to much.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by CodeReign (2426810)

        I think Windows eight will suck for no other reason than it doesn't follow mod2. You only ever purchase the mod2 of windows. 98 sucked 98 2nd edition didn't me/2000 xp/vista/seven there is a shit version before a non-shit version historically speaking. Though some features look nice. Perhaps this new filesystem will be worth it's weight in diamonds.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by LocalH (28506)

          Your mod2 theory falls flat because XP wasn't shit and Vista was (immensely so). 98 didn't suck either, at least not as bad as 95. The only thing that really sucked about ME was the removal of real mode DOS (yes, I know, there are mods available to bring this back, but that requires modifying system files and so IMO is only useful for hobby or bullshit usage).

          One does have to admit that Vista is way better than any 9x-based OS simply because it has the stronger NT underpinnings that make it more secure and

        • I think Windows eight will suck for no other reason than it doesn't follow mod2. You only ever purchase the mod2 of windows. 98 sucked 98 2nd edition didn't me/2000 xp/vista/seven there is a shit version before a non-shit version historically speaking. Though some features look nice. Perhaps this new filesystem will be worth it's weight in diamonds.

          Aside from their unrelated NT vs Win9x heritage and targeted audiences (Consumer:WinME, business:2000), Windows Me came out September 14, 2000. Windows 2000 came out 17 February 2000.

          Windows Me was Windows 98 third edition. Given the jump from NT6, Windows 2000 was "Mod1" using your terminology and Windows XP was "Mod2". All things considered Windows 2000 was pretty damn good.

          Main problem at the time was users were clinging on to DOS. Even though ME still had a DOS based boot system, it dissalowed real-mode

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Billly Gates (198444)

        I have not met a single person who likes Windows 8. Average Joes look at the screen funny and then ask why is this computer pretending to be a cell phone?

        Metro on Windows Phone 7 rocks and has great reviews but I am not blowing dough to leave tweets on tweetorama as the vast majority of users use PCs for work now and let their phones and tablets waste such time.

        I think it will bomb. Especially in the corporate environment. Many will be resentful and angry as after staying with IE 6/XP for 12 years the last

      • Depending on how long MS supports 7 (and given that yeah, most users do stick with the version it comes with), 8 may have quite a number of people hold off from hardware upgrades until something better comes along. It's really a pity that MS, Apple and Canonical seem determined to foist tablet OSes onto laptops and workstations. It's a serious regression. Windows 7 is actually good, I'll admit to keeping it on a spare partition on the laptop and a copy under Virtualbox on the Desktop. Apple had just abo

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          All of this makes me quite glad that I can use any DE I want on Linux.

          Nothing prevents you from using alternative DEs on Windows. Other than the lack of interest in creating them.

  • by redemtionboy (890616) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:49PM (#38852567)

    What really has me excited about Windows 8 is Kinect. I think we're going to see a big transformation in the landscape of user interface in the next several years pushing us towards device-less interfaces.

      Granted, this stuff isn't a replacement, it's a supplement. So don't think I'm preaching the death of touch or mouse and keyboard. The more options of well developed and useful interfaces we have the better.

    • Re:Exciting (Score:5, Funny)

      by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:32PM (#38852855)

      What really has me excited about Windows 8 is Kinect. I think we're going to see a big transformation in the landscape of user interface in the next several years pushing us towards device-less interfaces.

      Yeah, we're all going to create Excel spreadsheets by randomly waving our hands in front of the screen.

    • Re:Exciting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) * on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:42PM (#38852919)

      What really has me excited about Windows 8 is Kinect. I think we're going to see a big transformation in the landscape of user interface in the next several years pushing us towards device-less interfaces.

        Granted, this stuff isn't a replacement, it's a supplement. So don't think I'm preaching the death of touch or mouse and keyboard. The more options of well developed and useful interfaces we have the better.

      I think device-less interface make sense for hand held computers, and less and less sense as you scale up the size of the computer.
      Contrary to the scenes in CSI-Miami, flinging things around a huge table sensor is not particularly useful or efficient. Nor is reaching across your keyboard to move or select some object by dragging it across your 24 inch screen.

      Even on a level of effort basis, waiving hands and fingers around in the air is pretty much a non-starter. (Not to be too George Jetson here...).
      Then there is the on/off problem. Were you gesticulating while talking to your work-mate, or editing paragraphs on the page? Mice do nothing much unless you click.

      The mouse still rules, and even the Wacom Bamboo line of touch/pen input devices are clumsy approximations.
      Mice cost anywhere from 2 to 40 dollars, are amazingly precise, and by now, fully intuitive across all platforms.

      If QWERTY can last from 1878 to the present, something far more elegant like the mouse is going to have a very long life.

      Kinect will probably remain for games, and maybe music (performance, not listening), and the air guitar is going to become a REAL instrument.

    • Re:Exciting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EdIII (1114411) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:47PM (#38852967)

      I'm excited too.

      Something that might let me surf websites, go from links to links, control video playback, and have two hands free?

      It's A Good Thing.

      • The hands really wouldn't be free because you'd be using them for gestures.
    • It may have some uses but I just don't see it being that big a deal aside from some casual gaming, although even that makes more sense on a console in front of the TV.

      It's the same with touch screens on PCs; it's just not comfortable to sit in front of a keyboard and hold your arms up to perform gestures on screen (or in the air) when you can just rest your arm on your desk and use a mouse.

      The voice recognition aspects of Kinect could have lots of uses though, if it's far better than alternative syste
    • I agree. Between Microsofts Kinect and Apples Siri the interface might get really good. I think it will take a while, eg a few missteps, before either are really good. But I am looking forward to good things with both. I hate using a mouse and attempting to touch a PC display sucks. I really like the apple trackpad. With good interface design the Kinect could make the mouse all but obsolete. (Good logical interface Microsoft. Interface! Come on MS, please think!!!!) I am not sold on the new look (Met
    • I think we're going to see a big transformation in the landscape of user interface in the next several years pushing us towards device-less interfaces.

      Apple is way ahead of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXyNgXTt0ns [youtube.com]

  • With all the throwing around I hope these laptops will have an SSD instead of an HD.
  • by Digicrat (973598) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @07:55PM (#38852609)

    Kinect in the living room makes sense - voice/gesture commands in place of a remote control is surprisingly useful (when it works). On a laptop though -- what does the Kinect give that a touch screen can't do better? I mean outside of adult entertainment...

    On the other hand, if it can support gestures with your eyes, then it might be useful. For example, gaze at a specific window/monitor and having it automatically come into focus could be quite a convenience ... but I don't think we'll see that for a while.

    • "automatically come into focus" mucho approve! That's one great idea (stick a keyboard modifier in front of the command, and it could be damned useful.

    • by Gibgezr (2025238)

      It has one thing that could be much better than a touch screen: gesture input without greasy fingerprints on my screen.

      This is why, although my newest Sony e-reader has a touch screen, I still use the buttons to flip the pages 99% of the time.

      I am actually interested in this technology. I've gotten used to browsing the web on touch screen devices, so much so that I find myself annoyed when I'm browsing a website on my PC and can't "pinch-to-zoom" the tiny text on a page.

    • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:15PM (#38852751) Homepage Journal

      someone talking to themselves walking down the street would have been considered insane or on drugs

      now, they just have a bluetooth headset on and are perfectly normal

      today, someone sitting alone in the park making random jerky gestures would be someone on drugs, or insane

      in 5 years, that's just someone using their kinect-enabled laptop

      it's all part of technology's goal of virtualizing the experience of tourette syndrome and schizophrenia for us all

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I suddenly have a vision of a bunch of tech workers, professionals, what have you out in public, coffee shops, etc, flailing around like a bunch of epileptics jacked up on coke.

      The purpose may, in fact, be to troll the public at large.

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Drat, I was trying to mod this Funny as I was just imaging a bunch of people in a coffeehouse myself, and chose Overrated by accident. But I can't blame a Kinect interface for that.. yet. /replying to undo mod

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      what does the Kinect give that a touch screen can't do better?

      Actually touch screens are really not very suited to laptops. You don't want to be reaching up to the screen all the time, or covering part of it with your hand when you have a perfectly good keyboard and trackpad available. They only really make sense on phones and tablets.

      Eye tracking is another difficult technology. Your eyes tend to flick all over the place as you collate information so you can't really use it for selection or focus in a natural way. When people have tried it they end up staring wide ey

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Aside from gesture control, you can also use Kinect (in theory at least) for making better video chat. One problem with video chat is that the eyes never match, i.e. you look at the other persons face, but they see you looking off into the wild, as the cameras are on top of the monitor, while they should be inside the monitor. With Kinect you have a 3D image where you can correct the perspective of the image so that you looking at the other person ends up looking like you are actually looking at the other p

    • This idea is better:

      Have the computer figure out if you're talking based on the video feed (facial recognition). If so, activate the microphone and figure out if you're issuing a command to the computer. This will prevent random noises in the background issuing commands to the computer. Bonus points for developing a voice fingerprint to assist in the future if you're issuing commands.

      Best part: This will work with any laptop or desktop with a video cam pointed at the user.

      (So, if this isn't patented alr

    • 3d screens seem to be limping onto the market, but with a 3d camera... you're right, it's just going to be used for porn...
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      On a laptop though -- what does the Kinect give that a touch screen can't do better

      There aren't many touch-screen PCs out there - there's a few all-in-ones that have touch screens, but they all come with mice. Heck, Apple got patents on such stuff for probably half a decade or more, and nothing's come of it.

      Touch interfaces suck on a PC. If it's a desktop, your going to hold your hand up the whole time you're interacting with it? After a few minutes, your arm's going to get tired and then what? Stop using t

  • by goldaryn (834427) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:07PM (#38852691) Homepage
    BSOD - you can simply bang your head on the table to restart your computer!
  • by jjoelc (1589361) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:27PM (#38852809)

    Windows8... With a touch inspired graphical interface... And someone thinks the solution is to include a touch less hardware interface...

    I'll skip all the jokes about keeping away from Wwindows... Or a hands-off approach to management, etc. (or not...)

    • by poity (465672)

      Kinect interface seems like a useful extension to touch interfaces. There are lots of games out there still that rely on hovering your mouse in an area for an essential action, which is impossible to replicate on touch screens. Kinect can provide that layer of interaction.

      Also, inb4 "It looks like you're trying to touch the screen, would you like help?" :D

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Windows8... With a touch inspired graphical interface... And someone thinks the solution is to include a touch less hardware interface...

      C'mon, the people who are OCD about fingerprints on their screen need some loving too.

  • - Swing your left arm across your chest;
    - Block your left elbow with your right hand;
    - When you block your elbow you have to say "toe";

    Computer shuts down and powers off.

    (Courtesy of John Peter Sloan and Dave Dickens [youtube.com])
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @08:59PM (#38853087)

    I've been making gestures MS products for years. Call it feedback. Hell, I feel like making a gesture right now. The big change? Now we can be ignored 4 ways (keyboard, mouse, sound, gesture).

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @09:01PM (#38853101)

    Some people were complaining about Siri, saying that for some reason they didn't want to be seen out in public, talking on... a phone.

    Well I'd take that over being out in public with my mobile device looking like I was being attacked by an invisible cloud of bees.

  • I typically have someone in the row ahead of me recline as far as humanly possible, which can be frustrating but is tolerable. I hope I don't get someone sitting next to me who is flailing wildly trying to perform a copy and paste shortcut.
  • The problem is that not all Windows 8 laptops will have this, so it will be an afterthought. When will Microsoft learn from Apple? If you build a platform that requires certain sensors, developers will use them. Otherwise...well, it will just be a gimmick.
  • lessons not learnt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday January 28, 2012 @09:31PM (#38853307) Homepage Journal

    Way to kill an excellent concept, MicroIdiots!

    Voice control largely failed because nobody wanted to be caught dead talking to his computer and it just doesn't work at all in office environments.

    Putting gesture control into notebooks must have been the winner of the "stupid idea of the year" contest, and for some reason it got mixed up with the actual product plan.

    Seriously, on a train, in the airport lounge, on the airplane - that's when you really wish your notebook had gesture controls, right? And when you pitch your product to your business partners and give a crucial presentation, that's exactly the moment where you want to rely on more-or-less reliable gesture controls instead of a mouse or keyboard click or remote control.

    Totally. The only place dumber than notebooks would've been the Zune.

    • by a_hanso (1891616)

      Perhaps it *will* work, if short finger gestures are used (and I'm not talking about the obvious finger gesture).

      One of the biggest problems with touch interfaces is that they have *friction* -- you're wearing your fingerprints away against a flat surface. I'd love an interface where I can just hover my index finger a few inches away from the screen and have the mouse pointer follow it. Goodbye trackpad. Added benefit -- the difference between move and drag (which is muddy when using a touch interface) is n

  • "I see you're looking for *PORN*. I will open a Bing window and help you search."

    (5 minutes later)

    "You appear you have found what you were looking for. Have a nice evening."

  • "OW!", that fucking hurt :S
  • I think the biggest advantage to this is that the Kinect will be able to read gestures so you can act like you have a touch screen without having to pull your hands too far from the keyboard or get your finger prints on your screen. It would also be useful to raise you hand four inches off the keyboard and use an imaginary mouse.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah, if they include mind reading in the interface and joint medicine in the package..

  • when did cameras become classified as "Kinect Sensors"?

    • When they started detecting distance.

      • When they started detecting distance.

        stereoscopic cameras have been able to do this for quite some time and more accurately. it's still just a camera.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Not quite. IIRC, Kinect builds 3D image with a structured light IR projector coupled with IR camera. That's probably the part they called "Kinect sensor". Kinect box is this plus color camera and microphone array.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Exactly -- it's not just a camera. Besides which, if "stereoscopic camera" gets a special name instead of just being called "camera", why doesn't this other camera?

            The Kinect sensor works similarly to a stereoscopic camera, except:

            1. It works in the IR spectrum instead of the visible.
            2. Instead of making two recordings and correlating after the fact, one of them is actually fixed and projected (and this is the part that isn't a camera).

            For that reason I would expect the approach to fundamentally be more

  • Kinect and WebGL might make all those POV porn movies a lot more interesting. It could also give a new metric for Google over just how much fapping a web site generates.
  • I can think of a few useful applications that have nothing to do with gesture recognition; the z-depth would allow you to cut the image of the user away from the background, which could be useful for videoconferencing if you want to chat with someone but don't want them to see your surroundings or the other people in the room with you.

    Close-field Kinect on a laptop would probably allow you to do very accurate head / eye tracking, so you can do things like the '3d window' effect demonstrated in this video by [youtube.com]

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