Microsoft wants its popular Kinect to be a game changer for more than just video games.
The company launched Kinect for Windows this month, which is the first Kinect sensor licensed for commercial use. Microsoft Dynamics, the company's unit that develops enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management (CRM) software applications, is currently exploring business scenarios that could benefit from the use of Kinect technology.
A workplace version of the motion-detecting input system for Xbox 360 would have a wide range of uses in several different industries, according to Microsoft Business Solutions Technical Fellow Mike Ehrenberg and Microsoft Dynamics General Manager Fred Studer. The two mentioned the possible commercial uses of Kinect during an interview Thursday.
Update: On Friday, a spokesperson for Microsoft clarified the company's plans for exploring Kinect motion-detection technology in the workplace. The spokesperson said no products were currently in development.
Ehrenberg outlined a scenario where workers on a warehouse floor or in a manufacturing plant are wearing safety gloves that make it difficult for them to operate computers and other systems that may be used to track inventory or confirm that certain steps in the manufacturing process are complete. Kinect's motion-detection technology, he said, could be adapted to allow accurate input through a gesture which does not require glove removal.
"Or what about food service? You've been in the store where the worker wearing gloves makes your sandwich, then has to remove the gloves to operate the cash register," he said. "We all see a lot of things in the workplace that don't make a lot of sense and can be improved."
The original Kinect was released on Nov. 4, 2010 and after selling 8 million units in 60 days, the Guinness Book of World Records named it the fastest selling consumer electronics device in history.
"We mention it to companies and they think 'Why? It's a toy'," Ehrenberg said. "But it doesn't take us long to show them it has a place in the workplace."
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