After a long day at work I walk out to my car; it recognizes me and opens without a key. After I sit in my car, my height and weight are registered and the airbags adjust accordingly for safe deployment. After driving a while I start to nod off. The movement of my head is registered and Michael McDonald's "What a Fool Believes" plays full blast to wake me. When I arrive at home, I stand in front of my entertainment system and gesture to initiate interaction. It recognizes my face and pulls up my contacts rather than my wife's. Using just my hands, I flip through my contacts, select one, and begin video conferencing with him.
This scenario may seem far-fetched but it's not as far off as you might think. I recently had the pleasure of hearing James L. McQuivey of Forrester discuss radical interfaces and the transformation of product experiences at the Forrester Customer Experience Forum. He demonstrated a preliminary version of this 3-D sensing and gesture control technology created by a company called PrimeSense and capped the presentation off with a statement that these capabilities will become available to the masses in November via the Xbox 360 and Kinect.
This technology will be found everywhere from hospitals to cars.
PrimeSense describes its technology as, "an end-to-end solution that enables a computer to perceive the world in three dimensions and to translate these perceptions into a synchronized depth image, in the same way humans do." James described this as a revolution, which I took to be a bit of an over-the-top statement. Yet after thinking about it and speaking with Uzi Breier, EVP Worldwide Sales and CMO at PrimeSense, you can quickly start to see the truth in this bold statement.
Breier posed the scenario I wrote above and explained the work PrimeSense did with Microsoft as just the beginning. He described applications in medicine, cars, and home entertainment—among countless others that haven't been uncovered. (A world of Hal and Minority Report are coming soon!)
Two simple questions remain: when and how. Breier discussed the potential for growing this technology by developing with API's PrimeSense will make available. Yet McQuivey touched on another side of this. Who will have the experience to create these compelling experiences and, more importantly, where do you hire them? Interestingly enough, McQuively pointed to game designers and interaction designers as best suited to unleash the true potential of this new technology. Regardless of hiring options and direction, we're looking at the beginning a better convergence of home entertainment, data consumption, and intuitive usage starting with the most complex devices we own...our hands.