updated 01:10 pm EST, Thu December 2, 2010
Microsoft turns focus to natural user interfaces
Microsoft plans to bring touch-, gesture- and voice-activated technology to products that include video games and in-vehicle entertainment systems, say executives. In an interview with eWeek yesterday, senior director of marketing for Microsoft Tellme Ilya Bukshteyn said speech will be a key project at the software giant. Thus far, Xbox gamers can use their voice to control characters in some games, with about 20 percent of Bing Mobile searches also voice-activated.
These are among a larger push towards bringing a more natural user interface to more users and devices. The first products that feature such natural interfaces include those offered by Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7. Bukshteyn says it will be about two to three years before voice control is much more common in consumer and enterprise spaces. Natural user interfaces are refined largely by the cloud, with Bing and other tools at Microsoft's disposal helping out immensely.
Microsoft announced it will acquire Tellme in 2007, and much more recently bought Canesta, which makes 3D-image sensor chips and camera modules. These can be integrated into notebooks and car dashboards. It's also used in Kinect, with the peripheral's popularity encouraging Microsoft to develop more products based on similar technology.