A want-ad placed by Microsoft's Connected Car team indicates that the company is investigating ways to include Kinect's motion-sensing technology into vehicles as it strives to become a player in the "smart car" field.
Of course, playable games aren't what Microsoft has in mind as it explores uses for Kinect in automobiles. The company is more likely looking for ways to use the camera's voice-recognition software as a way to control other smart car offerings, like changing the information shown on the dashboard or tweaking the temperature.
Microsoft also seems to be building a system that 'recognizes' drivers and their habits.
"The new Connected Car will know its riders, and will interact with them naturally via speech, gestures, and face tracking," reads the job description. "It will learn their habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible."
Incredibly, Kinect won't be the first motion sensor in cars. Audi showed off an in-car system at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that was controlled by hand motions.
While auto manufacturers and tech companies argue that these in-car systems (which are often entertainment-based) are meant to improve vehicle safety, the National Transportation Safety Commission is skeptical. Last year, the NTSB even recommended a full ban on the use of cell phones in cars.
"We've seen distractions since there have been cars," says NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman. "There has always been a pretty girl on the side of the road that someone would turn to see. But the quantity and the time that people are distracted when they are behind the wheel is rising. … I'm not sure if we can envision where we're going to be five years from now with this technology. … It doesn't take much to be distracted. And if you make a mistake, it can have a real and tragic outcome for someone else."
- Technology & Electronics