Bringing Kinect and gesture control to Windows Phone

Going back to the Windows Mobile 7 rumor days in 2009, we can find lots of talk about gesture and non-touch control of the OS. Of course that was Windows Mobile 'Photon' which was scrapped and replaced with Windows Phone 7.

Flash forward to today and we still don't have much in the way of "non-touch control", though we do have accelerometers, compass, aGPS and other sensors (not to mention augmented reality). But Microsoft does not appear to be moving away from gesture control, which should be obvious to anyone familiar with their Kinect sensor for the Xbox (and eventually PC).  Having received a Kinect recently as a gift, we can say that the technology in the Kinect is as "alien" as anything we've seen. However, it's still a foot long device which is much bigger than even an HTC HD7.

In 2010, Microsoft bought a company called Canesta who specialize in gesture control technology, specifically chip making. The idea is that eventually this company will be able to shrink down the Kinect chip to a centimeter., From EE Times:

"Canesta’s engine is said to outperform the PrimeSensor which Microsoft is currently licensing from PrimeSense Ltd. (Tel-Aviv, Israel) for its Kinect. When Microsoft commercializes the Canesta-invented chip-level work-alike of the PrimeSensor, it will be able to downsize the foot-long Kinect to about a square centimeter, enabling tiny robots and other mobile devices, such as the Windows Phone, to perform sophisticated gesture recognition for natural user interfaces, autonomous navigation and many other tasks."

Hearing that of course brings us back full-circle to those 2009 rumors of non-touch control and a mobile phone. Perhaps Microsoft was ahead of itself at the time, but it's becoming obvious that in the near future, such technology shrunken down to our phone will be a reality. And considering how Microsoft is quite a bit ahead of Google and Apple in terms of gesture recognition/control, they're positioned for great things in the mobile world. In fact, according to the NY Times, Microsoft may have a lock on this technology:

Last year, Microsoft acquired 3DV systems, a company with similar gesture recognition technology. That deal coupled with the Canesta purchase may prevent competitors from acquiring these 3-D abilities and cut off potential intellectual property squabbles. Canesta has secured 44 patents in this area and has more pending.

Anyone else think Microsoft is a sleeping beast?

Source: EE Times; via GigaOm

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • That "thing" you all thought was a "front facing camera" on the latest Windows Phones? Well I got news for you! That's actually the new Kinect sensor for Windows Phone! Oh yeah! Nah, I'm just kidding. I have no idea, but I wish I weren't. Can't wait to see a Kinect SDK for the Windows Phone though. That would be awesome.
  • @ your comment "Anyone else think Microsoft is a sleeping beast?"Where did this come from? Microsoft is anything but sleeping. If you look at every major release from competitors, Microsoft always has something to rival it, the difference is Microsoft dont rush things to market, as they know they can push everything due to their dominance in the gaming (xbox) and PC (windows) world.If we look back at past releases from Major companies that rival Microsoft and what Microsoft has done to combat it, it paints a familiar picture.Google over takes yahoo becomes dominant Search engine - Bing is released, has been taking market share off google ever since in the US and grows month on month.Google Docs - Office 365 released, dwarfs google docs in functionality, coupled with new skydrive sharing features is basically everything you need.Sony Move - Kinect (need i say more)Google Maps - Bing Maps Aerial view is much better than anything google maps offers, and its side view is quite handy as well.The only thing Microsoft has ever dropped the ball on properly i think is the Iphone, when Ballmer laughed it off, but they still picked up with winpho7, and i dont doubt eventually it will be the largest OS around.Microsoft because of their history, have so much power in any technology history because of their patents etc (just look at android situation, they probably make just as much money as google do out of it).
  • @daniejam "Where did this come from? Microsoft is anything but sleeping."I was referring to the mobile space where they have a lot of catching up to do in terms of market share.
  • hang on there, it should beNintendo Wii - Kinect
  • Well the big msft is now on the loose they dont have the ANTI TRUST LAW SUIT ON THEIR BUTt.. Redmond owns the technology in the world, we all know that. Windows phone, Xbox live,windows8,Xbox,Skype,Nokia,facebook!!!! Come on now.. Google???? Apple??? No comparison, they will be up there again with windows phone......NO DOUBT!!!
  • The guys over at Microsoft research are some of my heroes! With the work that they are doing, we are seeing some fantastic tech coming and couple that with smart licensing deals like the one announced yesterday for the location based search. Brilliant!We early adopters of WP7 are on the ground floor of some fantastic things coming. After watching some of the Keynotes from the WPC, they are dedicated to the mobile space and the professional as well, but they also know that professional has a personal life and needs a phone that performs flawlessly in BOTH worlds.
  • Whoever says MS is always late ot the party, I agree but for the right reason, thats because they are developing secret missiles like this article explains...its going to doom the iphone-y5 or 4s or whatever that POS is called...
  • Gesture control would be ok but I'd rather see kinect integrated into games like the following microsoft demo.
  • Oh, I am sure that will be a part of it. This article is talking down the road a couple of years probably. I recently saw a demo video of the next generation Surface. One thing that really caught my attention was that the guy said that every pixel had a camera sensor, so over the entire screen there are millions of cameras. Well, check out this video: