Death of a Legend
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke
Microsoft recently released some specs and a brief look at their newest venture into the motion control era...Digits.
Basic Rundown: Digits uses infra-red sensors to capture hand movement and gestures. Obviously the engineering is far more complex than this, but you get the jist of it.
Possible Implications: Digits represents a massive overhaul of how we interact with our digital technologies. No longer would the keyboard and mouse play an intricate role in how you interface with your desktop. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, all would become an extension of your movement, not just a destination. Gaming would follow the same path, essentially removing peripheral controllers and making your body the ultimate controller.
A Bright New Age
The largest implication though, is the death of the keyboard and mouse. Both have been a staple in the desktop industry since inception. There have been there for every box opening, every quick movement in WoW, and every 4 hour YouTube zoneout. They have been present for so long that they have become a bit of a redundancy, much like the landline.
So, the question is, are we ready to cast aside tradition and move on? I don't think the answer can be found simply.
We have proven, time and again, that we are pretty resistant to change. This is why marketing schemes begin years before product release, to assuage the instant recoil people have when life-altering tech is introduced. That being said, our culture has come a long way from the duldrums of the digital technological supremacy that was the 80's. But still, removing the keyboard and mouse involves the one thing that makes us scream in terror...effort.
By removing the dynamic duo and introducing motion control to all our digital activities, two major things are being asked of us:
2.) Take a chance at making a fool of yourself while learning how to use the tech.
Traditionally, modern society does not react very well to these requests. I was working at a game shop when the Kinect was released and I saw the excitement of new tech turn to disdain once people realized they needed to move in order to participate.
Now, I can already hear the screams, "But EM, we heard the Kinect was extremely successful!"
Yes, I heard this as well...from Microsoft (same as hearing over 100,000 units of Mysts of Pandaria sold from Blizzard, when the real count is around 67,000). Truth be told, the Kinect has found success in a process similar to the Wii.
"You can lose weight by using this."
"Get your kids off the couch with this."
"Create a family experience with this."
"Use your voice with this."
That's right folks, Kinect is popular now because they relented. They figured out, much like Nintendo did, that gamers hate jenky motion controllers and they will always find a way to cheat the system. Hell, a coworker of mine could bowl a 300 in Wii Bowling with the flick of his wrist while sippin' on a Monster and carrying on a conversation.
The current iteration of motion control is a facade, a ploy to lure in a demographic once thought unreachable to developers...parents. And it worked!
I get the feeling that the first generations of full-scale motion controls will follow the same path; constant change and compromise until, 5 years in, we finally see a product worthy of the masses.
What do you think?