Microsoft’s Kinect sensor has already expanded beyond the Xbox 360 to Windows PCs. Next stop? The car.

People will be able to interact with their cars using gestures, the system will know who they are using facial recognition, and advanced data mining will provide new insights into the state of our cars and how we use them.

That’s the plan for the future from Microsoft’s automotive technology group, according to a Microsoft job post spotted by blogger Long Zheng of The post, seeking a software testing engineer, notes the progress Microsoft has made as the supplier of in-car technology for auto makers such as Ford, Fiat and Kia. The job post then presents this vision …

For the next generation of the Connected Car Platform, we plan to leverage the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, Azure, and Tellme. The combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform tomorrow’s cars from passive objects into intelligent assistants for both the driver and their passengers. The new Connected Car will know its riders, and will interact with them naturally via speech, gestures, and face tracking. It will learn their habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. Through a growing catalogue of applications, it will inform and entertain them, and keep them connected with the people and information they care about. The possibilities are endless.

A fantastic dream or a whole new wave of distractions behind the wheel? Possibly both.

As noted by Zheng in his post, it’s not the first we’ve heard of Microsoft putting Kinect technology into a vehicle. The company’s Channel 9 developer group worked with West Coast Customs earlier this year to create a demo vehicle called “Project Detroit,”  a Mustang tricked out with every Microsoft technology imaginable.

Among the features: Kinect cameras in the tail lights, supplying a live video feed of the car’s surroundings.

Project Detroit’s front and rear Kinect cameras producing a live video feed of surrounding pedestrians and objects. When parked, the rear windshield serves as a screen for playing movies or video games from behind the car.
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  • guest

    Apple comes out of nowhere and announces Siri-related deals with numerous major auto brands. MS, who has been in this segment for more than a decade, announces vaporware.
    Why didn’t this MS group push forward with Tellme and Kinect sooner? Another ten year lead lost to Apple. Just likes phones. Just like tablets. Really disappointing.
    Fire Ballmer. Start over.

    • Guest

      None of those “Siri-related deals” will result in any actual delivery for at least another year. Vaporware. (Source: )

      This Kinect project is the fruit of a vibrant research department. Remember research? It’s what results in products being delivered that change the face of technology. Microsoft is delivering revolutionary products that are changing the face of technology again. Its competition is delivering the same products as it always has, only with higher screen resolution.

      I like this strategy. The board likes this strategy.

      • Jean-Jacques Dubray

        Well, I am not sure Kinect is the right UI for cars that can drive
        themselves. It would require quite a massive investment to qualify this
        kind of technology, by the time it is adopted in any kind of scale it
        would be obsolete. Even though I like Kinect, I am not quite sure at its
        relevancy in the car. Ten years ago, yes definitely.

      • guest

        Let me rephrase. Every major car mfg knows about MS’s offering and has for more than a decade. Presumably, MS even briefed them on its near term future plans. Yet several of the very largest recently committed to Apple instead, even though they’re a brand new entrant to both the auto segment and voice control. If you don’t see that as failure for MS, its auto group, and very expensive Tellme acquisition, then I’m not sure how to make it any clearer for you. And much of the core techology for Kinect comes by way of an Israeli firm. Lucky Apple passed on them first, otherwise you and Mundie wouldn’t even be able to drag that one out ad naseum as the one example of R&D success.

        • Guest

          Microsoft has been in cars for years. Bing “Ford Sync.” I don’t know why you insist that Apple is beating Microsoft to the auto market given that the former is still at least a year away from delivering a single product and the latter has already successfully delivered iteration after iteration using a combination of purchased and developed assets.

          Honestly, open your eyes! The fight you envision never happened. Microsoft has won by default.

          • Jean-Jacques Dubray

            What I find amazing is the ability of some big vendors (MS, Apple, Google, Facebook…) to propagate their marketing agenda to individual discussions. I guess Apple may be been originally responsible for this achievement. When people like you an me should be discussing these topics from an end-user perspective and decide whether Siri is better than Tellme or Voice Controls are better than Visual/Motion controls (in the car), invariably, the discussion always goes back to vendor politics.

            I am currently re-reading the seminal book from Judith Harris, “The Nurture Assumption”, this type of behavior is probably rooted in the “Us vs Them” that is so foundational to our personality.

      • guest

        Okay. You’re right. Apple getting these design win despite being a new player to both the auto segment and voice control is actually failure, while MS’s group not getting them despite more than decade of auto presence and spending four times as much as Apple did on Siri in order to acquire Tellme, and years earlier, is actually success. And the core technology for Kinect comes from an Israeli firm which first approached Apple but was turned down. The fact that you and Mundie are forced to cite that one ad naseum speaks volumes about how little return there has been on MS’s annual $9 billion plus R&D budget.

  • TomJTaylor
  • Emma

    In current scenario the automotive technology has reached the optimum and may be in the current years it will set to receive the highest order what we didn’t expect. But except it we have so many vehicle safety technology with us to fight the emission as well as accident.

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