Teenagers are social creatures; it is known. That’s why Microsoft is experimenting with Kinect to bring interactive and socially-inclined advertisements to Xbox 360. Such ads that take advantage of gestures and speech captured by Kinect are being called “natural user interface ads,” or NUads for short. Imagine you spy an ad for Coke that piques your interest. Say aloud “Xbox, tweet” and the console will automagically send out a short message and link to the ad to all your Twitter followers. New scenario: You see a spot for Adidas that’s advertising a promotional event and want to learn more about it. Simply say “Xbox, more” and instantly you’ll receive an email with more information about the sponsored event. Here’s another: You see an ad for NBC’s The Voice and you can’t miss tomorrow night’s new episode. Speak “Xbox, schedule” and the console will send a reminder to your Windows Phone and you’ll be alerted before the episode begins. Watch the video embedded above to see all these voice commands and gestures in action. Others include “Xbox, near me” and voting for your preferences by waving your hand.
Ads suck in general. But new innovation like this might just inject a spark of excitement into the viewing experience. Social interactivity is all the rage these days; add these elements to advertisements and perhaps the act of watching them will be less painful.
Researchers at MIT have discovered the key to gesture-based computer (a la Minority Report): a multicolored Lycra glove that costs about $1 to manufacture. The glove is covered with 20 irregularly shaped patches that use 10 different colors that are all picked up by a standard webcam. Using a “new algorithm for rapidly looking up visual data in a database” the glove can be used to “gauge hand position in three dimensions — including the flexing of individual fingers — as well as a possible application in mechanical engineering.” Love it.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created an advanced motion-tracking camera that is designed to attach to a mobile device like a cell phone. It allows for “in-air typing” or Project Natal-style gestures to type out text messages or emails by detecting finger movement. The demo above shows how something like this could replace a physical and touch (virtual) keyboard on mobile devices.
Microsoft Research is back with a new way to interact with their Surface multitouch table.
Manual Deskterity is a prototype digital drafting table that supports both pen and touch input. We explore a division of labor between pen and touch that flows from natural human skill and differentiation of roles of the hands. We also explore the simultaneous use of pen and touch to support novel compound gestures.
The combination of pen and touch input makes for a wide range of gestures like holding, tapping, dragging, and crossing that can be used in ways you likely have never seen before. Check it out in the video demonstation above. I smell a hint of Courier here.
Controlling a computer using nothing but your hands. A feat we’ve all seen done before by Mr. Cruise in Minority Report. As part of a final project in a digital media course, a couple of MIT students have created an extremely crude version of what we saw in the sci-fi movie. Using gloves with LED tips and a webcam, the students demo how an on-screen image can be manipulated with various hand gestures. So we’re not there yet, but at least we’re moving forward. Take a look at the gloves in the gallery below.