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Kinect Hacker Unwittingly Spoofs Windows Media Center

Developer uses Kinect to navigate Windows 7 Media Center via hand gestures. Is this a skit from "Saturday Night Live?"


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Navigating Windows Media Center with your hand via Kinect. The only thing missing is a laugh track.

Microsoft gave up on Windows Media Center almost two years ago, and we should really just get over it. But the neglect of the once-vaunted platform continues to tug at the heartstrings.

Now comes Evoluce, a German multitouch development firm that illustrates the sad state of WMC in a new mockumentary called “Windows 7 gets ‘Minority Report’ Treatment.

In the YouTube video, a user navigates Media Center using gestures. One hand waves around like a mouse, while the other hand pushes to "click."

In this way, the user can navigate through a photo collection or TV programming guide or other Media Center offering using nothing but gestures.

Wait, you don’t get the mockery? Maybe the message is just too subtle if you’re not a lapsed WMC devotee.

The joke is that the biggest development in WMC in the last two years -- ever since Microsoft added "Friends" to the Internet TV lineup -- is a Kinect hack that turns your hand into a virtual mouse. To emphasize the ridiculousness of this “triumph,” the developer of the hack demonstrates this simple application for a painful 4 minutes and 35 seconds.

At the end, when the demo gets to map navigation, you think you’re in for a big treat – something like the equivalent of pinch-to-zoom. But, no, here again you can only navigate the virtual mouse to the ZOOM icon, and then click to enlarge.

Hilarious, don't you think? You can use a Kinect to control a Roomba, but you can't do anything interesting with Windows Media Center?

Kudos to the folks at Evoluce, for creating a demo fit for SNL, even if that wasn't the intention. The only thing missing is the laugh track.






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Article Topics

News · Blogs · Video · Digital Media · Media Servers · Gaming · Media Center · Microsoft · Media Center · Wmc · Kinect · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

23 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by DrFlick  on  11/24  at  07:32 AM

I am just curious Julie, what box do YOU use as a single interface for all of your content consumption, including live and premium TV content, that is even versatile enough to allow an application like gesture recognition to be integrated with it?  To me, that is the real mockery in your observations.  Even after no real improvements within the last year, a platform as mature as WMC still kicks ass compared to the myriad of upstarts out there.

  =D-

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/24  at  07:42 AM

Exactly, Derek, which is why it’s too bad Microsoft effectively abandoned the platform.

Posted by DrFlick  on  11/24  at  07:51 AM

Have they actually abandoned that concept of a single device or UI for content delivery within the home or have they just allowed it to morph into something more mainstream to better keep up with the changes in content delivery, mobility, social networking, and the industry?

  =D-

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/24  at  07:54 AM

Ha ha ... you say po-tah-toes!

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  11/24  at  08:22 AM

Julie,

I think you missed it on this one….

Not sure where you got the “...Microsoft gave up on Windows Media Center almost two years ago…” from. The fact they have not released any major “new update” for the platform doesn’t mean they have abandoned it. And nevertheless, it is still the best platform available today for consuming all types of digital content.

Derek has made a good point in the fact that MS is allowing Media Center to evolve into something more open and mainstream that can easily adopt new content and industry changes.

As for the Kinect demo in the video, I really don’t think Evoluce is in the business of mocking Media Center. Sorry, but I really am reluctant to see the joke here.
They demonstrated Media Center as part of the features that can benefit from the Kinect technology - which btw, together with voice recognition, is probably going to affect the way we interact with many of the devices at home.

If I may, I would recommend keeping a very close eye on this technology in the coming months.

Happy Thanksgiving grin

Eyal Kattan
http://www.medianexus.us

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/24  at  08:43 AM

I still use S1Digital Media Center with Cablecard as the hub of my entertainment system. Still one of the best EPGs out there.

But Msoft has done nothing on the content side, at a time when CAble, satellite, telco, ISPs, Tivo, Google and others are blowing them away with negotiated content, anytime/anywhere access, universal search, integrated UIs.

Obviously Evoluce didn’t set out Media Center (hence “unwittingly” in the title), but to simply showcase their gesture-based development capabilities.

However, don’t you think it’s amusing that this represents an “exciting” development for Media Center?

Posted by DrFlick  on  11/24  at  08:59 AM

I think the real thing is that it is the start of something big – at least long term.  It is one of the few advances in user to screen communications since the first Zenith wireless remote control came about back in 1956.  In that regard, it is revolutionary compared to what the rest of the industry has produced.  However, I still look forward to the first direct brain interface as the next step though…….

  =D-

Posted by Paul H  on  11/24  at  09:02 AM

Julie,

Why all the negativity? You’re still using a media center, many people still are. There are plugins that add more online content if that’s what you feel you’re missing. Ceton tuners are still being developed. Why do you still use the media center if you’re so down on it?

This demo is very interesting. Maybe they’re demoing media center because that represents the best UI for hand control? Not sure how the sarcasm is warranted. It is a pretty exciting development.

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  11/24  at  09:10 AM

Actually I think MS should stay out of the content and let other more content oriented companies (such as Netflix) to take care of the content.

I must have missed that “...exciting development…” for Media Center….. wink

...Kinect is exciting development for the everyone…

Eyal Kattan
http://www.medianexus.us

Posted by DrFlick  on  11/24  at  09:13 AM

Julie,

I also tend to disagree with your comment regarding “negotiated content.”  I have lost track of how many broadcast feeds have blocked Google TV recently - and they are only one of many.  Maybe that is why Apple TV has opted not to provide “TV?”

  =D-

Posted by Joe  on  11/24  at  09:50 AM

Media Center in a connected home environment is unstable, at best. Msft abandoned their effort in the CEDIA channel. MSO’s don’t support and HATE CableCard. Seale Moorer threw a TON of money at Life|ware and they weren’t even at CEDIA this year. Niveus stopped manufacturing Media Centers. High profile Life|ware and Media Center installers have switched to Crestron/AMX/Control4, etc. A stable Windows Media Center in the home running CableCard is a pipe dream. I know of zero home owners that would put up with the daily problems and glitches of this platform.

Posted by DrFlick  on  11/24  at  10:14 AM

Joe,

Obviously, you should investigate using a knowledgeable installer that really understands the platform and knows how to make it work as designed.  Since Windows 7, our dedicated Windows Media Center installations work flawlessly.

  =D-

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  11/24  at  10:51 AM

Joe,

As Derek suggested you may want to use a knowledgeable and experienced to address your specific issues. not sure where you are located, but I’m happy to offer my help.

As for the CEDIA channel, I don’t think MS ever wanted or planned to make MC as a high-end product that is targeted for the CEDIA channel. It was - from day 1 - a mass consumer product that was targeted for the average consumer to play their digital content in a more friendly way than Windows Media Player running on a desktop. This is also referred to as the 6-foot experience.

Indeed at first, the product was pretty buggy and complicated to install/set-up and therefore catered to the enthusiasts more than to professional integrators.
However, since Vista, we never had any issues with our installations and as Derek mentioned, W7 removed the last few hickups.

MS doesn’t hate CableCard. It is the cable companies that hate CableCard which was enforced on them by the government. It is very easy to blame MS for everything, but the true is that MS - more than any other company - lobbied the CableCard organization to remove some of the restrictions they imposed at the beginning. If MS hated cable card, I don’t think they would have partnered with companies such as CETON and SiliconeDust to deliver networked CableCard tuners to Media Center.

As for Life|ware, as someone who worked with the product for a long time, from technology point of view, the product is solid and once configured, had no issues - at least in our installations.
Did they market the product correctly? Absolutely not. Seal may have pored ocean of dollars on the product, but he’s also the one the killed his own product but that is a whole different discussion.

As for Niveus, I think they were targeting the wrong market with the wrong tools and that’s why they failed. The product was too new and way too expensive. If you target Audiophiles (as they tried), then you ought to know that you are targeting a very conservative market that may be reluctant to buy into such cutting edge technology. On the other hand, if you are targeting the younger audience, they cannot afford this product. So Niveus - unfortunately - got caught in the middle. They had excellent product but no one to buy it.

Eyal Kattan
http://www.medianexus.us

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/24  at  11:16 AM

Why should you need a pro to provide a Roku-like experience for WMC?

I still just find it shocking that Msoft never encouraged an app store for WMC and never has done anything on the streaming content side.

With the awesome EPG, why can’t I simply search for “Damages” and see a list of choices from Comcast, my media center DVR, Netflix and Fox.com?

My Media Center works just fine. CableCard has given me no problems, but all of the solutions that it was supposed to compete against—Comcast, Echostar, Directv, Tivo, FIOS, etc.—are quickly surpassing it.

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  11/24  at  11:33 AM

“...Why should you need a pro to provide a Roku-like experience for WMC?...”

You Should Not!!! and that is where MS is aiming. There is no obligation to have a pro installing Media Center - not since W7.

I agree with you on the app store and EPG. Not so much on the streaming. This should be handled by the content providers. MS just provide the platform.

That being said, whether it is Satellite, cableTV or FIOS…. I think the content is shifting to the internet and it is starting to happen faster than we think. Once the content owners realize this (and I do think they are starting to realize it now)... there is no need anymore for content service such as Cable or Satellite.  Just get a nice fat pipeline and relax in your couch….

And when this happens… if you have Media Center, you really need to do nothing. I just installed the new plug-in from Revision3 which was released a couple of days ago. Needless to mention ShoutcastMC which brings thousands of the best radio stations from all over the world.

could MS do more to encourage development of plug-ins? I think the answer is too obvious. ... wink

Eyal Kattan
http://www.medianexus.us

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