Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week

Tag Archives: Kinect

Will Kinect For Windows change the way you use your PC?

Tags : 

One of the more interesting things to come out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was Microsoft’s official announcement of a Windows-compatible version of its Kinect camera. Kinect, if you’re not familiar with it, is a camera array with 3D sensing capabilities that Microsoft first launched for its Xbox 360 games console. The cameras within the Kinect sensor track your body movements in real time, and this allows the Xbox 360 to offer both physical screen selections — swiping your arms around to select things or change pages — as well as more “physical” gaming experiences, including a number of fitness titles.

Kinect might have its roots in gaming, but it didn’t take long for keen hackers to see the potential in hooking up the sensor to a regular PC and use its 3D modelling capabilities for other purposes. To Microsoft’s credit, it didn’t shy away from or try to block the hackers; there was (in effect) unofficial “support” for Kinect hacking; Microsoft didn’t specifically sell the sensor to do anything but gaming, but was happy enough with some of the side efforts that came out of it. If the hackers broke a Kinect sensor or two along the way, Microsoft was more than happy to sell them another.

Kinect for Windows changes that arrangement somewhat. For a start, the “official” Windows Kinect (which will launch in Australia on February 1st) is more expensive than the Xbox version; a sensor and software will cost $299, something Microsoft puts down to the Windows Kinect sensor being a standalone product; it figures that money can be made with Kinect games on the Xbox 360, whereas the PC version may not generate any more income directly.

It’s also somewhat annoying to note that the official CES announcement pegged the price at $US249, but the Australian price is a chunky $50 more; while there are some tax considerations to take in mind, not to mention shipping, that kind of price difference does sting a bit.
The really interesting question for Kinect For Windows is what it’ll be good for. Clearly there’ll be some cross-porting of existing games titles, but that leaves the Kinect as only a rather expensive games controller.

There’s all sorts of potential for a touch-free navigation environment on the PC, albeit one that’d work a lot better for a PC connected like a home media centre than one connected to a notebook that’s sitting right in front of you. Microsoft’s claim for the Windows sensor (and not the cheaper Xbox one) is that it’s optimised for close up work of this kind, but I’m a little lost to work out what’ll make the most sense for that kind of interaction (outside of certain mobility limited scenarios) that couldn’t be done just as well with the tap of a mouse button or click of a keyboard. The new Windows 8 “Metro” user interface is built on Microsoft’s experiences with touch on the Windows Phone platform, and I can see how that could work with Kinect, but at the same time interface designers will have to work around implementing both Kinect and standard interfaces; at a $299 per user price point I’m not totally convinced that many will.


Is Touch Going To Be Enough?

Tags : 

For a very long time, there have been pushes to move computing beyond the confines of the keyboard. The mouse as a computing device actually dates from 1963, but it was the mid 1980s before mice in computing became particularly widespread. In recent years, even the mouse has been updated, improved and worked upon, whether it was the switch from mechanical, ball-based mice to laser-guided devices, or the move from cabled to wireless mice, or even the more oddball mice concepts out there, such as Air Mice that double as 3D pointers.

Mice themselves might become a technological oddity as (if you’ll pardon the rather obvious pun) touch really does take hold. Tablet PCs are the obvious place where touch is most prominent, but it’s not the only “digital” platform; a number of vendors offer PCs and notebooks with inbuilt touch capability, thanks to the fact that Windows 7 natively supports touch based input. To date, I’ve not been thrilled by touch on Windows 7, largely because while it works, there aren’t that many applications that make as much sense within the way that Windows 7 applications are written to use touch rather than a mouse and keyboard. That doesn’t mean a new application can’t use touch sensibly, but at this stage it’s a nice thing for Windows 7 rather than a key feature.

Operating systems that use touch as the basis for everything and are written that way, such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS fare better in this regard, because software developers think of them in those kinds of terms.

Touch still relies on physical contact, and one of the other reasons why I’ve yet to be really wowed by a touch-capable notebook is the physical effort involved in reaching over to the screen. Not that this is an onerous task per se, but simply because on a regular notebook, you’re still reaching right past a perfectly usable keyboard and trackpad to press an onscreen button that could be clicked on instead. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Even that effort might rather rapidly become something rather quaint, however, and via a rather unusual agency: Console gaming. Specifically, Microsoft’s Kinect, an add-on camera for the Xbox 360 console. The Kinect is intended (at this stage) for games, as it allows a gamer to wriggle, jump, box, or do whatever the game commands, and see those movements mapped onto an in-game character. That’s the theory, but it took very little time at all for intrepid hacking types to grab hold of the USB-connected Kinect camera and use its body-mapping technology for all sorts of other purposes on a PC. Interestingly, Microsoft hasn’t jumped on the lawyer-heavy bandwagon to stop this kind of thing, and some press interviews suggest that a Windows version of Kinect might not be that far away. Suddenly, all those cool sci-fi images of people working on virtual floating computer displays that don’t exist at all are very close indeed.


What’s New In Consumer Technology for 2011

Tags : 

January brings with it the start of a new year, and along with it the promise of all kinds of new technological gadgetry. This isn’t just a case of the year rolling over, either; January is also when the largest consumer technology trade show, CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) takes place in Las Vegas. It’s a chance for the heavyweights of the consumer technology trade to show off their latest and greatest wares, as well as the products that we should see on store shelves over the next couple of years. It’s a mixture of what you might think of as “pure” technology products, as well as more consumer-centric fare. As an example, last year’s CES was dominated by 3D Televisions, and they were still a presence this year, although with more focus on a glasses-free experience. TVs had to sit side by side with some major technology announcements, however. While Apple largely had the tablet computing field to itself in 2010, that’s not going to be the case in 2011, with new and rather exciting tablets on the table from LG, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, Motorola and RIM all on show. Some feature slide-out keyboards for those still not sold on the whole touchscreen motif, and many use NVIDIA’s powerful dual-core Tegra 2 chipset. One of the factors that has been a problem for Android-based systems recently has been the differing hardware that lies underneath each different Android phone. If the market consolidates around Tegra 2, those problems may become a thing of the past. Microsoft talked up its successes in 2010, particular surrounding the Kinect technology, as well as launching a revision of its business centric Surface technology, dubbed Surface 2. If the Tablet is the hot new thing, then the Surface is, in essence, the hot new thing on growth steroids. The original was, quite literally, a table, but one that happened to be touch sensitive. Costing over $20,000 each, these were serious promotional machines for hotel lobbies and the like. The new Surface 2 cuts the cost considerably (although Australian Surface buyers had a significant cost premium to pay, and it’ll be interesting to see if that premium continues with the second generation Surface), adds a tough gorilla glass exterior and a fascinating technology that turns each pixel on the display into a tiny sensing camera. Previous generation surface relied on specially designed tags that the Surface could “read”. The new Surface 2 may be able to do without them altogether.

Intel also used CES to launch its “Sandy Bridge” line of 2nd generation Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 processors. As you’d expect, Intel’s busy talking up the improved processing speed of the new CPUs, and frankly, I’d be stunned if they promoted anything else. CES also sees its share of concept products, product pitches and things that are just plain weird. I’d have to say that the strangest I’ve heard of on the CES floor would have to have come from graphics chip giant NVIDIA. Not content with powering many of the best tablet computers on the show floor, somebody at NVIDIA got the bright idea of combining computing and beer, in the form of the Kegputer. The recipe’s pretty simple; a high end Sandy Bridge Intel Chip, Two NVIDA GTX 580s for graphics processing”¦ inside a working beer keg. I figured somebody was pulling my leg when they mentioned it, until I found video of it online. Who wouldn’t want one of these?


Recent News

For nearly a decade now, Microsoft has produced its own line of (mostly) laptops under the Surface branding. Recently, Microsoft announced new Surface devices, which is in line with what notebook makers manage on an annual basis. The difference this time around was that Microsoft announced a lot of new Surface devices, encompassing upgrades to

Apple recently announced a slew of new hardware to tempt consumers with at a “virtual” streamed launch event it called “California Streaming”. The headline act was without doubt a very much expected upgrade to its iPhone lines, bringing the iPhone 13 family to market. Every year, roughly around September or October, you can expect a

Do you ever get tired of rolling your mouse, fiddling with your trackpad and running through tabs in order to switch between apps, jump into your spotlight search or close a page? How about finding a specific file, locking your computer or any of the other dozens of functions you need your computer to accomplish

A recent US court ruling could lead to some significant changes in the way that you pay for apps and subscriptions on mobile devices, tablets, and computers in the future. Epic Games, makers of the popular (and highly lucrative) video game Fortnite offered that game on Apple devices including its iPhone and iPad lines, but

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More