Patent Shows Kinect Understanding Sign Language

Patent Shows Kinect Understanding Sign Language

Microsoft has been touting their upcoming motion control system for quite some time now. Originally announced as Project Natal at E3 in 2009, Kinect will enhance the console experience like nothing that has come before.

Apparently, Kinect will go much further than what the Wii offers. Per the patent, the 'skeletal mapping' system Microsoft uses to map players' bodies and movements is extremely detailed. “A variety” of joints and bones can be identified, basically mapping out the player’s entire body. The system can even identify the features of the face itself.

As powerful as we expect Kinect to be, the patent shows that Microsoft intends to take it further than we thought, including implications for voice chat for disabled users:

“Where the user is unable to speak, he may be prevented from joining in the voice chat. Even though he would be able to type input, this may be a laborious and slow process to someone fluent in ASL. Under the present system, he could make ASL gestures to convey his thoughts, which would then be transmitted to the other users for auditory display.”

It is a very good sign that a major console manufacturer is being so inclusive of the gaming experience by considering disabled users. This, of course, could have benefits for everyone, since applications could be made to allow all users to learn sign ASL (American Sign Language). Let’s hope that this application would closer to a real learning tool than the Wii Fit is to real exercise.

Of course, this is only a patent, and all of the details of what exactly Kinect will do at release this Fall have not been confirmed by Microsoft. However,  there are many exciting implications here. Unfortunately, the patent itself seems to cater to the lowest common denominator. Let’s hope that there’s more to this than simple pwnage:

“In this situation, for example, when the user kills another user's character, that victorious, though speechless, user would be able to tell the other user that he had been "PWNED."

As good as Kinect appears to be, the system may be too powerful. This is getting a little scary, like HAL in 2001. Your Xbox 360 can now scan your face and ask you, “What’s wrong, Dave? It looks like you’re not enjoying this game today.”

Tell me Ranters, what do you think of the possibilities Kinect may bring to the gaming experience?

Source:, Edge Magazine, Microsoft Patent Application

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