According to a recent report from The Daily, Microsoft is working manufacturers third-party manufacturers on prototypes of laptops utilizing a built-in Kinect sensor. Microsoft has already discussed desktops that include Kinect functions while at CES this year, but this is the first mention of the motion controller in a portable solution. The prototypes appeared to be ASUS netbooks and they were running Windows 8, likely to use motion navigation within the metro style version of the operating system.
The potential to release cross-platform, Kinect-enabled games seems like the most obvious use of the technology. However, a smaller, mobile version of the Kinect sensor would need to focus the sensitivity range to a much smaller area in order to work correctly with a typical 15-inch laptop screen. In addition, light sensitivity could be a problem for users that like to sit outdoors while on a laptop. Beyond games, the opportunity for disabled users to utilize gesture and voice control in a portable solution would be excellent. Using Kinect controls to operate actions within Windows Media Center could also be interesting.
Microsoft started encouraging developers to experiment with the Kinect hardware after opening up the Kinect SDK during June 2011 and seeks to roll out Kinect-enabled desktops before the end of the year. According to speculation from The Daily, Microsoft is only offering licensing the Kinect technology to manufacturers rather than building a solution in-house. Adaptations of Kinect technology popped up all over CES 2012 with many television manufacturers such as Samsung and LG adopting motion-based controls to navigate menus and other HDTV functions. In addition, a company called SoftKinetic is also building 3D gesture technology into portable computers. As displayed during CES this year, the technology can sense motion beyond six inches from the sensor built into the laptop.