Microsoft: 'Video Kinect' to Tie Gesture UI to Lync

Microsoft execs say Kinect for Lync will marry unified communications with gesture recognition – some time soon.

By Stuart J. Johnston | Posted Nov 22, 2010
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Kinect, Microsoft's new gesture-driven game controller, has been on store shelves for only a few weeks, but the company says it is already working to put it to work for business computing as well -- and first up will be integrating it with Microsoft Lync.

The disclosure came during a keynote speech at the launch of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Lync Server 2010 -- the replacement for Office Communications Server -- in New York on Wednesday.

"[We] are working on a piece of software called Video Kinect which will be delivered to all Kinect [users] as a seamless update," Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Office Division, told partners attending Lync 2010's rollout.

Many observers missed the announcement. One of those who didn't was ReadWriteWeb.

Kinect uses three dimensional sensing technologies to let the user -- whether gamer or business person -- interact with games or other applications by gesturing and speaking.

Lync 2010, meanwhile, provides support for unified communications, including e-mail, instant messaging, video and audio conferencing, and voice and video calls either on customer-hosted sites or through Microsoft-hosted sites. It is the key component of the company's unified communications strategy.

While there have been no major problems identified with Kinect thus far, customer satisfaction will ultimately determine the success or failure of the device, if not the technology itself.

In fact, Kinect seems to be off to a good start with consumers this fall.

Microsoft claims it sold more than a million Kinect units in the first ten days of availability, and that the company is expecting to sell a total of five million by the time the holidays are over.

Now, Microsoft is following up on statements it has made in the past year or so that the same video technologies could provide more natural ways to interact with business applications and video conferencing equipment.

"We're very happy to bridge the Kinect network, the Windows Live network, the Lync enterprises, [and] Lync Online together to form a really rich, federated network for rich communications," Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president for the Office Lync and speech group, said during the keynote.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates briefly joined the Lync launch proceedings via a high-definition video link from his office in Seattle, and discussed the need for what's referred to as natural user interface, or NUI, going forwards.

"Software has not stopped doing its magic ... we're seeing that with the camera now we can do visual recognition ... so, that kind of type of interface, the video recognition, the voice recognition, those advances in software will drive it to a new level," Gates said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is not yet ready to say when Video Connect will be available.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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