Hoping to do for personal computers what Microsoft has done for gaming, Asus will soon offer a motion sensing device that looks and works like the Xbox Kinect.
The Wavi Xtion system has two parts: a media streaming device and the sensor. The streaming device extends the PC's desktop to a television alongside which the sensor is located and maintains a channel back to the PC for data from the sensor.
Using hand gestures, anyone seated in front of the television can control the PC and call up pictures, start and stop videos and play games programmed to work with the motion sensor. (See a video of the system in action on YouTube.)
Asus unveiled the device at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, where it demonstrated games and a fitness application called "MayaFit Cardio Lite." A computer-generated instructor on the screen showed exercises the viewer was meant to follow, while the motion-sensing system allowed feedback on how well they were being performed.
PrimeSense, the Israeli company that worked with Microsoft on the Kinect system, was Asus's partner in developing Wavi Xtion.
Asus is hoping to have the system out in May. A price has yet to be announced, but Wavi Xtion will almost immediately go into competition with Microsoft's Kinect.
Microsoft plans to publish a software development kit (SDK) for the Kinect sometime in the first half of this year that will enable programmers to access Kinect capabilities including audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor.
It's part of Microsoft's attempts to unlock the sensing technology built into the gaming device for more than just gaming. Initially the SDK will be available in a non-commercial version intended to allow academic research and enthusiast communities access to the Kinect for projects. A commercial version is planned to follow, but no schedule for it has been announced.
It's too early to tell if there will be any compatibility between the Microsoft and Asus products.