Natal: Coming to an Office Near You?

Natal: Coming to an Office Near You?

In an earlier post I speculated upon the future uses of Microsoft’s new full body motion detecting system, Natal, which is coming for the X-Box. I took the sensor from the X-Box, and speculated on what could happen if this moved to offices and factories in combination with other budding technology, such as Pixelwalls or Pixelspaces.

Here’s a snip:

So why the excitement? Part of it’s because this does draw in people who are challenged by the GUI, the Gamepad, the joystick, or the mouse. It changes the playing field, and it changes the way we will interact with computers. What happens when this type of IO crosses verges? Steven talks about one he’s familiar with in the video, and you see an interactive fashion / shopping application as well. Think bigger than that. Combine it with another technology. This is where the wild assed speculation starts. Think of your office or factory computers – think not of monitor screens, but of pixelwalls with ability to run multiple apps in multiple virtual screens painting your cuby walls, and then think of public space pixelwalls.

There will be new art using this, and it will be interactive. There will be new interactive industrial uses, and there will be home uses. There will be breakthroughs in how we live our daily lives. Sometime over the next twenty years you won’t have to go to the computer to use it, you will be able to use applications, input to them, and view media by popping it up on the nearest pixelwall. With hand motions and speech you will likely be able to do everything you do today with a keyboard and mouse, and you will be able to take multiple views with you to any room in the house that has a pixelwall and sensors. If there are public pixel walls and network in public locations, you will be able to take all your media with you, and combine your virtual world with other people’s virtual worlds in the public square.

Now here’s the update on what could be the greatest I/O device since the Mouse:

In an interview with CNET News this week, Gates talked about a world in which depth-sensing cameras such as the one Microsoft is adding to the Xbox allow people to control their PCs, game devices, and televisions. (See a video from the E3 conference below.)

Speaking about all of the technology Microsoft has cooking in its labs, Gates said: “I’d say a cool example of that, that you’ll see… in a little over a year, is this (depth) camera thing.” Gates said it was not just for games, “but for media consumption as a whole, and even if they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication.”

Just a reminder: you can’t predict the future – so pixelwalls or pixelspace might be arrived at by different means, and full body motion sensing devices might combine in a different way than I’ve predicted.
I use “Pixelwall” as a self-explanatory word, but think in terms of wallboards that interconnect that are coated with plasma, LED, OLED, or LCD or some other type of display media, perhaps it will be wallpaper instead and come on rolls. The point is that at some time in the near future we won’t have monitors, we will have walls that can display multiple views and applications in multiple formats.
Life size views of scenic venues could be piped into your home, the view of the construction site could be piped into the Foreman’s office, the uses are many. With speech command and full body motion sensors as the new “human input devices” it takes humans out of chairs, and puts them in a truly compute anywhere environment.

Here’s a video demonstrating some of the gaming applications for this controller, now put it in a full surround computing environment at work… the possibilities become near endless.

UPDATE: The Futurist predicted some of this.