Robot Overlords and You
So the Kinect is out and the Skynet jokes are abundant. People are worried about being watched in their living room while others are busy trying to find better uses for the hardware than the awful games you are supposed to play with it. Me, I don’t own an Xbox so people have to find a way to spy on me with Playstation Move. (Which I will buy as soon as there is ANY game out for it that I want to play. See you in 2013 you evil spies.) But I find the non-game applications intriguing.
First up there’s the voice control. Sure, it doesn’t work in Europe yet (as far as I know) and whether it works for whatever function you want it to perform is pretty much up to chance, but those are problems with the software that won’t be an issue for someone who hooks the thing up to a PC. I’ve never been a huge Star Trek fan (sure, I’ve watched quite a bit, but it was never quite my cup of tea) but I always loved the talking-to-the-computer angle of it. Do we need Kinect for that? No, but it might turn people’s minds toward creating a really functional voice control system and I’d be all for that.
Then there’s the real meat of the Kinect hardware, the tracking system. Sensors like that aren’t new, I’ve even worked with one at the university years back, but the Kinect is affordable. Mounting the thing on a Roomba might not be the most exiting of applications, but it does show a lot of potential for rather affordable futuristic home applications. Controlling the music or transferring a phone call with a wave of your hand are applications that seem quite useful to me, and maybe someone could use the technology to build a better voice controlled Dalek. I won’t even touch on the industrial applications, especially considering how cheap the Kinect is to actually make.
I really hope that the Kinect will take off. Not so much because I like it as a control scheme (I don’t) but because of what a saturation with such system could do for our standard of living. Call me nerdy, but I do like the idea of Star Trek and Minority Report like computer controls. Sure there are privacy concerns, but I would guess that people already have more sensitive data on their computers (and the internet!) than a camera could ever capture. And it’s easier to search and steal too.