The Kinect Effect in Education

As a gamer and someone who's excited about the potential for gamification in education and the way in which we can apply incentives and other features of gaming to the learning process, I am a huge fan of Kinect. I'm a fan of the opportunities it's going to open up for new user interfaces, the opportunities it has to engage students in new ways of learning, and the ways in which it can actually drive innovation in creating new experiences in the classroom and beyond.

With the 1-year anniversary of Kinect this week, we are celebrating “The Kinect Effect” – all the unexpected, innovative and exciting ways people are using the controller-free game device that we could have never imagined as the intended use. It is transforming the ways people think about technology in healthcare, education, art and many other industries.

We've already seen tremendous enthusiasm and usage of Kinect among academics and hobbyists tinkering with the Kinect for Windows SDK. And today, Microsoft announced that we will make available a commercial version of the Kinect for Windows SDK early next year. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is one of the many of educational organizations among the 200 applicants in the pilot program building applications using Kinect right now. The Kinect SDK will provide toolsets for inspiration of great ideas and great applications of this new technology, and I'm excited to see the impact.

A lot of work has been done in Microsoft Research (MSR) to extend the ways in which we think about physical reality, gesture control, as well as how it interacts with the real world.  Kinect is a great example of a technology that's pushing the edge and demonstrating not only what's here today but what's possible for the future. This video below extends that type of thinking in a project called Holodesk, which uses a hologram and a transparent display to create a synthesis between the physical world and the digital world in a way in which you can manipulate objects, collaborate, as well as integrate physical objects with virtual objects in space. The potential for this in education…simulating, modeling, and looking at three-dimensional objects is exciting.

What’s next? Check out the video below for some of our ideas, but we’re hoping you’ll join us invent where Kinect goes next.