Microsoft shows off Kinect's upcoming kicks - 3D scanning and gesture control

Maybe you can teach an old Kinect new tricks
Maybe you can teach an old Kinect new tricks

Microsoft has announced new functionality for gesture controls coming to the Kinect for Windows SDK, while also reigniting our imagination about the future of Kinect Fusion.

First up, Fusion: at TechFest this week in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft talked up the 3D scanning project that's due in a future SDK update.

Kinect Fusion, the company explained in a blog post, uses the sensor's depth data to create detailed 3D models by scanning real-world objects or surroundings. A user simply moves the Kinect sensor around the object to scan it from all angles, and the sensor uses "hundreds or even thousands of frames" to construct its models.

It was announced back in November, but Redmond's readiness to talk about its features now signals an SDK update - for Windows, by the way - can't be far off.

Pinch-to-zoom coming soon

"The amazing thing about this solution is how you can take an off-the-shelf Kinect for Windows sensor and create 3D models rapidly," Shahram Izadi, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, said in the post.

"Normally when you think of Kinect, you think of a static sensor in a living room. But with Kinect Fusion, we allow the user to hold the camera, explore their space, and rapidly scan the world around them."

While Microsoft isn't talking about exactly when Kinect Fusion functionality will arrive for Kinect beyond "soon," a much closer SDK update will allow Kinect sensors limited gesture control.

The update lets the sensor detect when a user opens and closes their hand, acting as an analog for clicking a mouse or tapping the screen.

The hand grip motion will also be used to add pinch-to-zoom gestures, where a user closes both hands and moves their fists together or apart to adjust the zoom level.

The gesture control is not quite as sophisticated as the upcoming Leap Motion controller, which can detect up to 10 individual fingers, but it's a large step forward for Kinect.

Microsoft will update the Kinect for Windows SDK with gesture control in the coming weeks, though has not revealed any plans to bring the feature to Kinect games on Xbox 360.

However, with the Xbox 720 on the burner, we could see some added movement controls and scanning features land with the new console.

Via The Verge