Kinect: “No technological reason” stopping sign language support

Chris Davies - Aug 20, 2010
Kinect: “No technological reason” stopping sign language support

Were we too quick to write off sign-language support in Microsoft’s upcoming Kinect motion sensor add-on for the Xbox 360?  According to Shannon Loftis, head of the Good Science Studio at Microsoft, that could be so; she told Pocket-lint that “sign language is very much within the realm of possibility,” and that “there’s no technological reason why sign language would not work.”

Sign language was initially spotted in patent documentation Microsoft filed for Kinect, suggesting the peripheral’s dual cameras could be used to track individual finger movements and translate them to on-screen text.  However, Microsoft then said the first-generation Kinect wouldn’t in fact support ASL (American Sign Language), at least in its first iteration.  That fell in line with rumors that the company had downgraded the quality of the video cameras in the Kinect sensor bar, to models that were only capable of differentiating between arm movements, not fingers.

This new information would seemingly contradict that speculation, with Loftis saying that “this is just the launch of the product and development will continue throughout the entire life cycle of the Xbox 360.”  We’ll have to wait until the first teardowns to see exactly what cameras Microsoft has fitted to Kinect, and of course even then there’s no public timescale for sign language’s inclusion.

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