It is widely known that Microsoft will be attempting to combine its motion-sensing console peripheral Kinect and the associated software capabilities with its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Now it looks like device manufacture Asus is going to capitalise on this partnership by building Kinect sensors into next-gen laptops.
Kinect arrived on the scene in 2010 for the Xbox 360 home console, allowing gamers to use their whole bodies as controllers. The gesture-based fun goes beyond gameplay, as Kinect users can interact with menus and media content by flailing their arms or, more accurately, making specific motions.
When Windows 8 arrives later in 2012 it is thought that Microsoft will have baked compatibility with this gesture-sensing peripheral into the operating system, leaving it up to manufacturers to actually harness it with their own hardware.
A report on The Daily has suggested that Asus could be one of the first to take advantage of Kinect-like controls. It has even allegedly created a range of prototype laptops which have motion sensors located just above the display. This would replace any existing webcam that you might find on contemporary laptops, but since Kinect already doubles up as a webcam this should not be an issue.
If Kinect goes portable then we could start to see people sitting in coffee shops and flapping their hands about in front of their laptops rather than physically touching it to control the menus. This is definitely an intuitive way to use a computer, but is not likely to completely replace things like keyboards and mice, at least in the short term.
Of course Windows 8 will not only be available on laptops and desktops, but also on tablet devices. This is because Microsoft has deliberately set out to make the operating system as scalable as possible so that it can take on Apple`s iPad with its own set of slender, powerful slate gadgets.
This might mean that Kinect will also begin to feature on Windows 8 tablets at some point in the future. Given that Asus has been particularly successful with its Eee Pad Transformer tablets running Google`s Android operating system, it might be well positioned to make Windows 8 work outside of laptops and desktops.
Microsoft has been given a clear indication that Kinect is popular amongst consumers thanks to the fact that more than 10 million of the peripheral have been sold for the Xbox 360. Upon its launch it quickly inspired a number of inventive programmers to come up with their own gesture-based software for both practical purposes and advanced gaming interaction.
With officially sanctioned support in Windows 8, Kinect could come to a broader mainstream audience. Asus and its fellow gadget manufacturers will need to be the driving force behind this revolution, although animosity between Microsoft and its main rival mean that the Apple iPad is unlikely to get such functionality.