We saw a technology demonstration at CES. What’s the actual state of development?
The Kinect integration was developed in a Testing and Adoption Program with Microsoft. This allows partners early access to Microsoft technologies.
We are still determining what the real world applications are for the integrator. Our goal was to get it out there, whet people’s appetite and see how our partners would integrate it. So far the feedback has been very positive and we’ll be interested to see where our partners and integrators take it. We’ll frequently come up with a new technology and our integrators may devise uses that we never anticipated
We’re very excited about Kinect and the possibilities it opens up for our integrators and our end users and how it will enable them to further enhance their Crestron experience.
Is this a software module that integrators can purchase?
Yes, it will be a software product that can run on any Vista/Windows 7 PC. The software receives the messages from the Kinect camera and, via a translation layer, sends them out to the Crestron world. Many Crestron products are running embedded versions of Windows, so our existing platform will be able to support the technology without an external PC.
What are the distance limitations between the Kinect camera and the PC running the software?
I believe Kinect comes with a standard 10-foot USB cable, but this is easily extended with one of the many USB extenders available today.
Will users be able to define their own gestures, or will they have a pre-defined library to choose from?
There will probably be an array of gestures to choose from and these can then be assigned to any required action. For example, in one installation, raising an arm may increase the brightness of the lights; in another it opens the garage door.
How extreme do gestures need to be in order to be recognized?
It’s quite sensitive, so they don’t have to be so dramatic. At the show, the gestures were quite dramatic just because of the number of people walking around and thae interference that causes.
What kind of latency is there between a gesture and the action. For example, could I use a gesture to skip ads on my DVR and stop the fast forward very quickly?
The latency is very acceptable: about a second or so. For example a phone call comes in and you want to mute the audio in your home theater. You’ll essentially have the audio muted instantly.
Does Kinect support multiple users? For example, there are three people in a home theater watching a movie; can any one of them interact with the system via gestures?
Yes. We are also considering this for commercial applications such as meeting and conference rooms. As long as the user is within focus of the camera and the camera can identify a person, it shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll be running some tests with a 10 person meeting. The key is that the camera is able to pick you up as a person and can identify appendages. As each facility is different, our integrators would test this and set the system up appropriately.
What is the range of the camera?
At the show we were about 15-feet away. We need to run further tests, but we think 20-feet will be OK.
Do you plan to do anything with the Kinect voice recognition?
Absolutely, we’ve done some voice recognition in a similar program with Microsoft in the past, so we’ll certainly continue that with the Kinect platform.
When will this be ready for market?
Right now, we don’t have a set date.
Kor Baydurcan is the Director of Software Products and Enterprise Solutions at Crestron. Kor has been with the company for over 13 years and has worked on many different technologies at Crestron, including various products in the TPMC family of touch screens, mobile solutions, and Enterprise Room Scheduling Software, Fusion RV™.