updated 08:40 pm EDT, Fri April 20, 2012
Kinect patent hints at augmented reality
A Microsoft patent application revealed on Thursday could, if granted, bring automatically adjustable three-dimensional audio to Kinect gamers with surround sound systems. In addition to the possible audio benefits, the patent implies that the Kinect may be an even more capable attachment than Microsoft previously let on.
The patent describes an audio augmented reality technique in which both a room and any users in the room are scanned and accounted for by the Kinect's depth camera. Upon scanning the room, the Kinect then system then determines the best means of playing sound so that the user perceives audio as coming from a virtual source. In practice, this would allow for the Xbox to adjust sound delivery so that, no matter where a user moves about the space, he would be presented with ideal 3D sound. These measurements, calibrations, and recalibrations would all be performed on the fly, so that user would be presented with a seamless 3D audio experience.
Interestingly, the application also states that the Kinect would be able to estimate the material makeup of physical objects in the room, so as to gauge how the sound produced would interact with those objects, allowing the system to even more precisely tailor its sound delivery for the user.
Additionally, the patent application allows for more data collection by way of a user-worn microphone or headset, which would enable the Kinect to more accurately judge the acoustic properties of an environment, and from there to further calibrate sound delivery.
The Kinect add-on has been a considerable success for Microsoft, and the company is rumored to be in talks with ASUS and other manufacturers to bring the Windows-compatible technology to notebooks and television sets. [via Wired]