Can Kinect make a difference within e-learning?

Each month and week seems to see the launch of a new piece of technology for people to get excited about. Last month I saw that the Bigtrak is making a comeback! Companies are able to have global launch days that captivate their customers with their new product and service. The new Apple iPad launch has been a huge success with huge volume of units being sold in the first days. The e-learning community has rightly been excited by the iPad and the possibilities that it provides for mobile learning.

The kinect launch doesn’t seem to have been met with the same levels of excitement despite the possibilities that it provides for learners and developers. Originally called Project Natal kinect is a movement controller that allows you to control the software with your body movements, you don’t need to hold any type of device. Due to my interest in game based learning I’d be interested in the first promotional video and the opportunities that this could provide for learners and developers. When the Nintendo Wii was launched people were amazed about the new game controller and the way that it would change the way that we play games.

A few months after its launch I was thinking about how we could use the controller within an e-learning resource. After testing, reading, coding, prototyping we realised that we could develop flash games within the Wii browser and develop a series of game based learning resources. The development project was a success but for each user to benefit they would need a Wii device, something that we are unlikely to see within an office or school environment. Jonny Lee through his TED video had showed the possibility of the  controller technology being used on its own and we had high hopes for a working alone device to reaching the market after time.

After E3 2010 the game industry was buzzing with hope that the Kinect technology will make it to the PC. The ability to use this device will open up new possibilities for designers that will allow learner to have an immersive experience. We don’t have any development costs or platform ideas but if we are able to have a device that works on a standard platform and supports PC development it can have a real difference. For example the driver assessment course that alongside actual drive training also has a hazard perception section using the device, a flight simulation or a adventure location based resource where you actually walk within the environment.

Kinect could offer a new device that will provide an interface that could make the same impact that the PC joystick made. The development of game based learning, virtual worlds and simulations appear to be the most platforms that will make the most of these technology. At the moment we don’t know the development platform or how much development costs will be but it looks like a very interesting movement.

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