On a previous post, I was commenting on how the Kinect’s lack of success as a gaming input device could easily be mistaken as a failure of the device itself, if one doesn’t look at the multitude of areas where it’s being used. Its future seems to be up in the air, however - if those other applications are niche, and it hasn’t succeeded in entertainment, then what?
I’m willing to make a prediction about where it’ll go: Kinect (or devices like it) will become ubiquitous and fade into the background.
Currently, a lot of Kinect use is focused on having it very much up front and center, and nothing more front-and-center that than avateering.
I expect, however, that this entertainment-focused approach will fade out. Installations are expensive to make, and doing them just so passer-bys can play with them for a few minutes is great for engagement, but ultimately a cost center.
What I expect is that Kinect will be increasingly used in an inconspicuous fashion.
Imagine you show up at a store. There’s a screen wall on the background with some eye-catching animation. It detects you when you’re nearby, but instead of showing you an avatar it shows you some options, things you can find around. It tracks your movements to select from visual choices, to show you around the store, to direct you where you want to be. When you turn your head to look at something, it detects interest and zooms into that area for you. It makes your visit to a store more effective, and makes you more likely to buy something before leaving the place. And it can do this for multiple people at a time.
That’s where I expect we’ll end up seeing pervasive use of the Kinect, or something very much like it. In-store analytics of where people spend most of their time. Natural gesture interfaces. An in-store online shopping hybrid. Areas that can actually make a location more efficient, lower their costs, increase its revenue.
Future applications will focus on improving the customer’s experience instead of just entertaining him, and the device itself will be invisible.