Microsoft first developed the Kinect motion and voice detection technology for its Xbox 360 game console. Since Kinect was released as an add-on controller-camera in November 2010, others have been creating third party applications for the device. Microsoft has tried to encourage that activity and in 2011 released an official Kinect SDK for Windows 7 users. Now the technology is being used for a new prototype product that sounds like it comes straight out of a science fiction movie, specifically Minority Report.
According to a report from the Nieman Journalism Lab web site, the New York Times' R&D department has been working on a project with the working name of "the magic mirror". The device is a true mirror that a person looks into while in his or her bathroom. You can still use it for things like brushing your teeth or combing your hair. However, using the Kinect technology allows the mirror to use both motion sensing and voice recognition features to activate the device's hardware.
Those hardware features include things like displaying news headlines and videos to the user. It can also allow a person to update their calendar for the day, send messages out to others in the home or outside the home or even do some quick online shopping. It can even be used to help in the bathroom. For example, putting a drug package in front of the mirror could display the directions on how to take the drug safely in the mirror, instead of having to squint to read the directions on the packaging itself. Obviously this mirror is just a concept at the moment but it certainly shows that the Kinect technology can be used for far more than just gaming.