Could this be the first shot in the GBUI wars?
If you are deeply involved as part of the Microsoft Xbox Kinect team, you would think there is no better job on earth than to work on a product which is selling in the millions of units, is ahead of projections and is one of my favorite technologies of all time. In fact, I would imagine Microsoft would be horrified that anyone from this team would consider leaving – especially defecting to Google. Yet, Johnny Chung Lee, Wii Hacker and an integral part of the Kinect team just left Microsoft to become a “rapid evaluator” at Google.
Leena Rao surmises this has to do with Google’s rumored gaming portal and while this could be the case, I believe Google is trying to one-up Apple with this move and there is more here than a simple gaming play.
If you take a look at how we interact with touch interfaces on tablets and smartphones and you add in full-body interaction such as what you can do with Kinect, you understand the potential for a combined interface which blends keyboard, mouse, human body and fingers which logically flows from finger to speech to body gestures.
If you have a few Kinect games you already see the need for such a standard as different games require their own gestures to communicate with the system.
I don’t have any idea what rapid evaluator means and I can’t find much online regarding this title but what if this move and the position has to do with rapidly evaluating body and other movements of users as they interact with their smartphones and other devices?
In other words, could this be a sign that Google is developing a new input language? I think if they aren’t, they are going to fall behind as Microsoft and Apple realize this is the end-game.
As an example of what’s coming, check out my post from the summer of 2008 where I surmised the GUI is becoming the gesture-based UI or GBUI based on an Apple patent filing. Moreover, an input discrimination patent from Cupertino discusses the ability for a device to utilize far-field images coupled with multi-touch input to determine if a device is near an ear, fingers or other body parts.
One has to imagine that Chung Lee was either frustrated with Microsoft’s red tape, politics or just saw a far better opportunity at Google to change the world for the better. While corporate defections happen constantly, this one could be more important than your typical job move and could further signal the move towards the fully integrated gesture-based GUI.