It was once said that all work and no play could result in Jack being a rather dull boy, whereas all play and no work would turn him into a mere toy. But that was then and oh how times have changed. Now Jack, and Jill for that matter, can work and play all at the same time with Kinect. It was originally intended as a game that would bring Microsoft’sXbox 360 into the gaming conversation, but now it has entered the world of “playful learning.” Thanks to Kinect’s controller-free “magic,” children can physically interact with content. In other words, kids could get off of the couch and into the game, so to speak. In partnerships with Sesame Street and National Geographic, among others, Kinect developers hope to provide an interactive learning environment where children engage with the information in playful ways while also secretly gaining knowledge. Game designers, computer scientists and education researchers from New York University are all involved in taking Kinect beyond play and into education.
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Of course, fans of Kinect have already heard any number of stories about folks using it in unexpected ways. It has helped unlock the world of technology for autistic people who enjoy interacting through this new tool. Again, thanks to the controller-free features, people who have lost a limb can play as if they had the missing arm or leg back. There are also rumors of surgeons who can wave their arms to perform computer assisted surgery. This last one can either be an interesting or a troubling thought. Would you want your surgeon doing surgery by video game? And if you’re a surgeon doing this, feel free to let us know how it works. In any case, Kinect is a um, game changer for Microsoft – in more ways than one.