Gesture controls added to Microsoft Kinect's repertoire

Microsoft has some new tricks for the Kinect game controller that developers will be soon able to incorporate into their apps for Redmond's.

Hand gestures that allow you to pinch-to-zoom objects on your screen and even duplicate mouse functions have been added to the developers' kit for the Kinect, The Verge reports.

The new functionality allows Kinect to recognize when a person makes a fist and then interpret gestures made with the clenched hand.

For example, with your fist you can control a cursor on a screen. Move your fist toward to screen to zoom in. Move it away from the screen to zoom out. Moving left and right can pan the screen.

At this point, though, Microsoft says it's only enabling the gesture functionality for Windows, which will no doubt disappoint current Xbox owners.

New Xbox involvement

Xbox owners who upgrade to the new Xbox, expected to be released later this year, may see the gestures in their future, as it's rumored that that version of the game console will require Kinect to be connected to it at all times.

If that's the case, Microsoft may add support for these new gesture features to make a mandatory Kinect connection less of a bitter pill to swallow.

A glimpse into how the new gestures may be used in games was demonstrated at Microsoft's TechFest, going on this week at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington. The gesture features was demoed there working with a casual Windows 8 game called Jetpack Joyride.

Kinect was introduced as an add-on for the Xbox, but Microsoft has sought to attract PC developers to the device by introducing developer kits for them, too.

Some hardware makers have also dabbled with the device. Asus, for example, introduced a laptop with Kinect tech built into it.

Although there hasn't been a groundswell of demand for Kinect-enabled PCs, the new gesture capabilities for the device could make it an interesting alternative to a mouse or touchpad.

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