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MSFT Aims to Patent Every Aspect of Kinect

Microsoft has filed at least 12 patents that protect the intellectual property of its motion sensor controller technology surrounding Kinect. The company aggressively aims to patent every aspect especially the software that enables a gaming experience that is based on gestures and motion tracking. The patent applications that surfaced this week are:      

- Extending Standard Gestures

- Gestures Beyond Skeletal 

- Gesture Shortcuts 

- Gesture Tool 

- Gesture Coach 

- Avatar Integrated Shared Media Selection 

- Localized Gesture Aggregation 

- Systems And Methods For Tracking A Model 

- Real Time Retargeting of Skeletal Data To Game Avatar 

- Systems and Methods For Applying Animations or Motions to a Character 

- Avatar Integrated Shared Media Experience 

- User Movement Feedback via On-Screen Avatars

Especially interesting are the filings of user movement feedback via an avatar, which is described as:

"a method for providing feedback to a user about a computing environment, the method comprising, recognizing, using an image-based capture device, a presence of a first user in a capture area; associating a first avatar with the first user and displaying the first avatar on a display screen; recognizing aspects of the first user within the capture area; and modifying an appearance of the first avatar to provide feedback to the first user about at least one of capabilities, features, rights or permissions of the first user in the computing environment."

as well as the filing that details motion tracking, which is described as:

"A device for tracking a model of a user, the device comprising a camera component, wherein the camera component receives a depth image of a scene; and a processor, wherein the processor executes computer executable instructions, and wherein the computer executable instructions comprise instructions for receiving the depth image from the camera component; removing a background of the depth image to isolate a human target; and adjusting the model to fit within the isolated human target." 

All patents have in common that they were filed last year, eight on May 29, 2009; three on August 31, 2009; one on August 26, 2009 and one on June 15, 2009.

It is very apparent that Microsoft does not want to allow any loopholes that would allow others to copy its technology. This flurry is reminiscent of the aggressive patent approach surrounding the iPhone about three years ago - which, however, did not help much as Apple is tangled up in countless lawsuits today and courts still have to confirm its patents.

If Kinect is the future of gaming, then Microsoft could see a similar trend.