updated 10:55 pm EDT, Thu June 23, 2011
Avatars paired with patients, doctors, groups
Microsoft appears to be previewing ways for its Kinect technology to be utilized in new market segments, as the company's research and strategy head, Craig Mundie, shows how the system could be used in a healthcare setting. In a demonstration at the Pacific Health Summit in Seattle, the executive demonstrated a diabetes support group meeting in a virtual setting using their avatars rather than typical video conferencing feeds.
The virtual gathering is said to have an edge over traditional video, allowing healthcare professionals to review scenes from a variety of different angles. Mundie suggests users could replay scenes to help observe each avatar's body language and other emotional cues.
"If you get the animation of the eyes, eyebrows, face and mouth nominally correct, most of the major human emotions are accurately portrayed," Mundie said, according to quotes posted by GeekWire. "You get a huge amount of cues even though you're looking at their cartoon characters."
Microsoft recently released a Kinect SDK that will allow developers to take advantage of the motion controller for Windows-based applications. The Xbox 360 is also expected to expand its non-gaming Kinect features, with a video-conferencing utility expected to be launched sometime in the next few weeks.
The company has yet to disclose any specific details regarding plans to engage the healthcare market or other segments.