Will the New Platform Change Our
Game for Better or Worse?
Perspective #1: “Pack your bags.
If you were just getting used to the
tidal wave of change triggered by the
introduction of a little game-changer
called the iPad, then you better hold onto
your hat. Get ready for the next chapter
in the decimation of our industry known
As you have no doubt heard by now,
Microsoft recently began shipping its
new Xbox360 console complete with
the small horizontal bar that allows the
system to operate without a controller.
Microsoft describes the experience
this way: “Kinect brings games and
entertainment to life in extraordinary
new ways without using a controller.
Imagine controlling movies and music
with the wave of a hand or the sound of your voice.”
If, at this point, you are thinking that some new gaming gizmo is not going
to impact your business, then you are missing the point entirely.
Kinect Adventures Obstacle Course
Gaming is Just the Beginning
There are three core technologies built into the Kinect
system: speech recognition, facial recognition, and gesture
recognition. Individually, each of these has existed in one
form or another for years and before now they were mostly
slow, buggy, unreliable, or just plain didn’t work. Microsoft
has spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars to refine
and integrate these three technologies to create a new kind
of gaming experience that does not require a controller. But
look a little closer and you begin to see why this technical
breakthrough could be very bad for our industry.
Notice that the quote from Microsoft above mentions
“controlling movies and music with the wave of a hand or the
sound of your voice.” There’s no mention of gaming there.
Now imagine that Microsoft licenses these technologies for
use in completely unrelated industries in the same way they
already have to Ford, who now offers the
Microsoft “Sync” speech recognition in their vehicles.
Imagine a world in which you can reliably arm and disarm you security
system or unlock your front door with nothing more than your voice (after
the system uses facial recognition to verify your identity, of course.)
Imagine all the electronics systems that we interact with being “aware”
of who we are, where we are, and what we want, simply by monitoring and
recognizing our presence (gestures), our moods (facial), and our voices.
Imagine a world in which all of these electronic systems, from appliances
to ATM’s to power tools, all speak the same universal “language” and
that they all communicate wirelessly and integrate seamlessly.
Imagine clients controlling lights, temperature, audio,
video and other systems in their homes without keypads,
touchpanels, or any of the user interfaces that we can supply
today because these products already offer this functionality
out of the box. Imagine a world in which everything we
as ESCs have offered to our clients for the past 20 years is
completely, totally irrelevant and unneeded.
Perspective #2: “Wow! What an amazing opportunity.”
Microsoft definitely has delivered a
“game changer” for our industry with its
new “Kinect” technology.
Microsoft has just introduced its new “Kinect” gaming
system with all kinds of groundbreaking technology that is
sure to impact our industry. The new system features speech,
facial, and gesture recognition, and based on its previous
licensing deal with Ford, it seems likely that these technologies
will find their way into other industries, including ours.
Imagine being able to install electronic systems for
wealthy clients that are already able
to discover and connect to each
other using a single, universal and
Kinect Joy Ride
Kinect Sports — Soccer
Imagine being able to configure the settings for amazingly intuitive self-populating user interfaces
instead of trying to create custom programming and UIs to control a
bunch of equipment that was never designed to work together.
Imagine being able to design and install a whole network of new
sensors including dozens of tiny cameras and microphones around
the home to enable the speech, facial, and gesture recognition these
new systems will rely on.
Imagine designing, installing, and servicing a whole new class of
wireless networks for homes that will now need to rely on access to a
robust, redundant, and even 100-percent fail-safe connectivity.
Microsoft definitely has delivered a “game changer” for our
industry with its new “Kinect” technology, and it will be interesting
and exciting to watch as it evolves, creating opportunities for how
we might leverage it in as yet unimagined ways.
The thing about technology is that it always has and always
will be in a state of change. It is also highly probable that this
change will occur at an ever-increasing pace. The question is not
whether or not technological change will impact our industry, but
how. The answer I suppose, all depends on how you choose to
look at it.