Microsoft is testing a prototype netbook running Windows 8 which replaces the typical webcam with a row of sensors across the top of the screen, according to a report by The Daily. The company is supposedly testing its Kinect technology to navigate through the operating system's Metro UI using gesture and voice controls.
Microsoft will not build computers with Kinect baked in. Instead, they would presumably license the technology for laptop manufacturers to implement on their own designs. The prototypes spotted by The Daily were apparently based on an Asus notebook, but the site didn't comment on how much bulk the sensors add to the machine or how they affect battery life -- two key aspects as featherweight Ultrabooks grab the spotlight.
Microsoft clearly realizes the potential of Kinect beyond gaming and is encouraging developers to create applications that take advantage of motion-sensing technology. A PC-optimized version of the sensor able to see objects as close as 50cm without losing accuracy is set to arrive on February 1st for $250.
The Redmond-based giant is not alone in experimenting with new ways of interacting with computers. A Swedish firm called Tobbi recently showed off an eye-tracking control system on a Lenovo notebook that allowed users to point, select or scroll with only their eyes.