But it turns out that Microsoft's Xbox innovation is being used for more than racing games and dance offs: it is being used by independent developers to create affordable new technologies using the Kinect's on-board 3D camera. By virtue of being mass produced, the Kinect is a relatively cheap way to introduce machine vision technology to the masses.
German company MTVec sees a future for Kinect hardware that includes home security, auto-pilot for motor vehicles, the increased presence of facial recognition software, and even in robotic surgery. The ease in which the Kinect is able to quickly render images into three dimensional planes using its combination of infrared cameras and 3D imaging allows software developers a shortcut in designing complex designs for use in high tech industrial designs.
Microsoft has been very supportive of independent programmers, engineers, and small businesses integrating Kinect hardware into their designs. They've already released a documentation and tool kits free of charge to developers looking to use the Xbox 360 for more than just fun and games.
This isn't the first time a game console has been used beyond sheer entertainment purposes. Among other PS3 accessories, Sony's flagship console made waves in the medical community. Although difficult to program software for, PS3's Cell processor was exceptionally good at computing raw numbers. Scientists around the globe found that it was perfectly suited for organizing the large amounts of data used in biological research. The DNA codes of the human body, cancer cells, and other topics of vital interest to the medical community have been analysed with the PlayStation 3's hardware.
Like Pure DAB radio, the Kinect is one of the hottest gadgets in the world. However, do give a thought to the power of your Kinect the next time you play some Kinectimals with the kids. You're not just playing with a novel new toy: you're harnessing the power of the next great innovator in 3D software.