Touchscreen devices might be slick, but if you’ve ever owned one, you know that they all present one major flaw.
It’s not the lack of physical buttons or keys… it’s the damn fingerprints.
Here’s the gist: Corning’s video – “A Day Made of Glass” – breaks down what a day could look like “in the near future.” Which apparently involves a lot of high-tech glass. Like optically sensitive windows that tint based on light conditions… car dashboards with a full touchscreen interface… and countertops that act like giant iPads.
Awesome, yes. But it could also double as a commercial for Windex.
I mean, how the heck do you cover every surface with touchscreens and avoid fingerprints?
In short, build a touchscreen interface that you don’t actually need to touch at all…
The First Step to Ditching Windex for Good
I know that sounds like sci-fi. But based on a recent announcement from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), “non-touch” technology is closer to going mainstream than you might think.
In fact, it’s already here.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console can already register complex motion controls with its Kinect peripheral device.
If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, Kinect is basically an uber web-cam that acts as a motion sensor. So you can perform a series of gestures to play a game. Think of it like the Nintendo Wii, but without a controller. And unlike the Wii, Kinect can pick up full 3D motion capture, facial recognition and even voice recognition.
To give you an idea of how popular the technology is, between its launch in November 2010 and the beginning of January 2011, Microsoft sold around 133,333 Kinect sensors a day. And it shot ahead of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and iPad as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device on record.
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But while that’s great for people with an Xbox 360, why should you care about this technology now?
Unlock Your Front Door… With Your Face
On April 13, Microsoft announced plans to release a software development kit (SDK) for the Kinect sensor in the spring.
That would allow private developers to begin creating new applications based on the technology.
Initially, Microsoft is limiting development to non-commercial purposes. And of course, the applications are only compatible for the Windows operating system. In itself, that could give the Windows experience a much-needed transformation.
But there’s no way Microsoft plans to sit on this technology for long. I imagine the company is already working out a way to license the technology in order to make a buck from app developers.
Once that happens, the sky’s the limit. Imagine unlocking your front door via facial recognition technology. Or your windshield tinting when it catches you squinting.
Or, as Microsoft demonstrated last Wednesday, you could even build a gesture-controlled recliner on wheels.
But other than further enabling childhood obesity, where’s the investment opportunity here?
No Words… No Touch… Just Motion
The short answer is whichever company develops the most innovative, game-changing application for the platform.
So in other words, the real opportunity won’t surface until developers get a real chance to get working with Microsoft’s Kinect software development kit. And based on how developers are already exploring the Kinect’s capabilities, it won’t be long before some truly mind-blowing applications hit the market, now that the software is easier to harness.
So for Corning and its futuristic, glassy vision of the future, it could take the innovation to the next level by incorporating advanced motion-sensing capabilities to the screens. That would allow users to input commands with a simple gesture, rather than coming into physical contact with the surface.
Until then, keep the Windex handy.