Microsoft is testing prototypes of Kinect-enabled notebooks using motion-sensing as an interface for Windows 8, it’s been revealed, ahead of what are believed to be plans to license the technology to laptop vendors. Specially modified ASUS netbooks are being used to demonstrate the system, which builds on Microsoft’s freshly-announced Kinect for Windows hardware, The Daily reports; the ultraportables replace the single webcam above the screen with a row of sensors that can track movement.
Running along the bottom edge is “a set of what appear to be LEDs” the report continues. Insiders at Microsoft have supposedly confirmed that the modified netbooks are indeed official demo units, though the expectation is that – unlike the original Kinect for the Xbox 360 – Microsoft will not itself be building computers with Kinect baked in.
Instead, the company is expected to license the Kinect system as an add-on to Windows 8. Gaming is one possibility – especially as we already know Xbox LIVE will be integrated into the new desktop platform – but there are other options including hands-free multimedia navigation, easier control of an HTPC or new usability for the disabled.
Microsoft’s approach isn’t the only one we’ve seen looking to add different control methods to Windows 8. Tobii unveiled its Gaze system earlier this month, using eye-tracking cameras to add an extra dimension to traditional mouse and keyboard navigation. However, Tobii’s previous eye-tracking hardware has been considerably more expensive than a Kinect sensor, while Microsoft is also believed to be readying a second-gen version accurate enough to allow for lip-reading.