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Notebooks with Intel's version of Kinect due in late 2014

Mark Hachman | June 6, 2013
Intel has backed its vision for computers that see and hear by dedicating a $100 million investment fund to the venture, and committed its customers to supplying the technology by late 2014.

Investment targets will include broader touch applications, imaging, gesture, voice and emotion sensing and biometrics, Intel said.

Other developers, however, have claimed that Intel doesn't need to go that far to enable laptops that can interpret gestures. PointGrab, an Israeli developer, showed off technology that uses the Webcam built into notebooks to recognize gestures. Windows 8.1 will add support for new gestures, such as hands-free volume controls, Assaf Gad, the vice president of marketing and product, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. One of those will include a "sshh!" mute gesture where a user touches his lips with an index finger. "Air drawing" will also be included, useful when highlighting elements in a presentation, he said.

PointGrab's technology is built into newer Samsung TVs, and PCs sold by Acer and Fujitsu. A hands-free app using the iPhone's camera is also available. Gad said that there were no technical limitations to supplying its technology as a free, downloadable app; however, its business model calls for the company to license its technology to PC makers, he said.

So are hands-free gestures actually useful for anything, in an environment where some consider touch to be superfluous? Gad went back to the hands-free navigation through presentation software. "I don't think we are a replacement for anything," he said. "We think we are an extension" of existing ways of interacting with the PC.


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