It's late, this is just a short note to let you know that today I saw the future and what I saw was so stunning I couldn't go to sleep without telling you about it first. The future is the new Xbox 360 that debuted at Microsoft's E3 press conference today — not just the improved hardware which ships to stores today and costs the same as the previous hardware — but Xbox Kinect. This is Microsoft's long-awaited full-body natural user interface (NUI) for the Xbox 360, previously codenamed Project Natal and now branded as Kinect.
Kinect is everything. Kinect is the future of everything. Kinect is to the next decade what the operating system was to the 1980s, what the mouse was to the 1990s, and what the Internet has been ever since. It is the thing that will change everything. Once we've all been Kinected, we will never go back. You'll shop, communicate, chill out, engage, and debate using technology that can see you, image you in three dimensions, and interact with you in ways that are cooler than the most far-out science fiction, yet completely natural.
I could explain it, I could try, but I won't. Instead, I'll just encourage you to watch the last hour or so of the press conference yourself (though if you follow my link, you may also want to watch the first few minutes just to catch the pre-game interview with Felicia Day — isn't she adorably nerdy?).
Later this week, I will sit down at E3 with the people at PrimeSense, the Israeli company whose technology powers Kinect. I've had the in-person demo before, and it has blown me away. This time, I'm meeting with them because they're going to hook me up. You see, in two weeks, I'll be keynoting at day two of Forrester's Customer Experience Forum in New York City (June 29, 30 at the Grand Hyatt, stop by and say hi). And though the details are still a bit under wraps, let's just say that we'll be giving the audience a live demo of what it means to control a computing device (not an Xbox in this case) with a NUI — a natural user interface, otherwise known as, simply, you. Or in this case, me, as I'll be the one on stage.
Future historians of technology and society (the distinction is becoming less and less clear) will look back at this year, perhaps even referring to it as year one. Think about it, we're only six months in and already three of the most important technology developments of the decade have been released: the iPad, a 4G phone (poor coverage notwithstanding), and the Xbox 360 Kinect NUI. Add those things up, and we're only lacking one thing to be firmly located in the future: a holographic display. Oh, yeah, Microsoft's working on that, too, announcing today a 3D display that doesn't require glasses and can project separate 3D images to two people in the same room by aiming the images to each person's eyes. It's not holography yet, but it's close enough for this futurenaut.
See you in the future.