Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor add-on is best known for offering an evolutionary update to the motion sensing capabilities that Nintendo first provided in the Wii. But I've argued on Windows Weekly, in my Kinect review, and elsewhere, that the big innovation in Kinect, the one that will have the longest-lasting legacy, isn't motion sensing but rather voice control.
And while the tech world wrings its hands over how precious the Siri voice control feature is on the iPhone 4S, they've also conveniently forgotten that Microsoft shipped functionality a lot like that a year ago, in the Kinect. You can say things like "suggest a movie" or "watch this" and it will actually do it.
So it was with some amusement that I read recently in the New York Times Bits blog that Apple's secret plan for "cracking" the TV market was, get this, using Siri-based voice control. You know, just like Kinect.
"Apple realized you could just talk to your television," the post breathlessly reads. "It's the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk."
Science fiction? I guess that's true if you ignore what Microsoft shipped a year ago.
I have learned one thing about Apple over the years. Despite protestations from people who see the copying, the one thing Steve Jobs' firm always got right was combining previously-available ideas and technologies with drop-dead beautiful design and elegant user experience. And the resulting products are, of course, often magical. I'm sure whatever HDTV sets that Apple designs will be as well.