Microsoft eyes Kinect for Windows 8 mobile devices

Personally, I think one of the coolest devices Microsoft came up with in the last several years is its Kinect platform.

At first, I thought Kinect was interesting on the game controller level alone. Then geeks and modders started hacking the platform for other uses – and I saw the real potential of Kinect.

Indeed, the platform has become so popular that Redmond rolled out Kinect for Windows. The new device is specifically designed to operate with Windows-based PCs and should bring a new level of interactivity for gaming and other applications.

NowThe Daily reports Microsoft is planning to develop a version of Kinect that will be integrated into Windows 8 portable devices such as notebooks.

The software giant is expected to license its Kinect tech to notebook makers such as Asus with a caveat: manufacturers who deploy Kinect for Windows 8 will not be allowed to use other motion sensing technology in their machines.

However, The Daily also emphasized that while Asus hardware has been used in terms of prototyping, the company is not directly involved in the development of Kinect mobile. Of course, Asus is expected to be a launch partner.

And according to reports, there are already prototypes operating in the wild. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and a drunk engineer will leave one of these machines at a bar – leading to unofficial pictures of what notebooks packing the technology might look like.

Apparently, there are some significant downsides to notebooks with integrated Kinect technology, such as limited battery life. I can only imagine that adding a host of sensors to a notebook which already has limited battery life will cause power to be slurped from the battery very quickly.

There is apparently some indication that at least initially, Kinect will not be integrated into the notebook directly. Meaning, the platform could take the form of an accessory clip with its own battery pack – similar to how first-gen web cams connected in the days of yore.

Plus, Microsoft may allow notebook manufacturers to customize the Kinect experience. Presumably, this means notebook makers would be able to build their own custom user interface for Kinect. One potential  problem? The same issue we run into with custom user interfaces over the top of Android – which is to say they are not all created equal, and some are a pain to use.

Even with caveats, this sounds like some very interesting tech. Think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to to interface with your notebook from across the room without a remote or cordless mouse? Of course, I’m the first to admit that it remains to be seen if mobile Kinect technology will ever be more than just a gimmick.