The next great game for the Xbox 360? "Rock, Paper, Scissors."
Microsoft's experimental Research lab is out with its latest futuristic prototype: This one is called "Digits," and it is a hand-tracking device, worn on the wrist, that can precisely model the hand's movements, down to the fingertips, onto a screen. The sensor is sort of like a super-accurate Kinect-bar bracelet, and the technology just might make its way onto the Xbox of the Future and change how you interact with graphical landscapes.
The best way to learn about Digits might be to see it in action. Below, you can check out a video put together by Microsoft showing off the capabilities of Digits. As you watch the sample applications, let your mind run wild on what this could mean for video gaming systems in years to come.
The project is a collaboration between Microsoft's Cambridge Research team and researchers at Newcastle University in England; the team presented its work at the recent Association for Computing Machinery Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (that's ACM's UIST, to you). The system is revolutionary not just for sensing a hand's movement without the user having to wear a clumsy glove, but also because it is able to track movements without interacting with a fixed sensor (like a Kinect bar), meaning Digits could work wherever you go -- "from room to room or running down the street," as Microsoft Research's David Kim put it on the Microsoft website.
Though you might initially think that Digits is going to be little more than a cool way to shoot a gun in the next Halo, the developing team clearly has a more ubiquitous use in mind. Kim says that he wants to shrink the device down to the size of a wristwatch, so that one can wear it at all time and control a smartphone or other device without removing it from his or her pocket. That might mean beaming your device's screen to a TV and controlling it up on a big screen, or it could mean wearing a Google Glass-like set of electronic spectacles and manipulating your screen using hand gestures out in front of you.
Whatever it ends up being used for, Digits sure looks cool. Of course, you can say that about many of the wowie-zowie gadgets emerging from Microsoft Research's laboratories, from the mind-bending 3D HoloDesk to the wearable multitouch projector. Now let's just hope some of this stuff starts making it to market in the coming years: We here at HuffPost can't wait to trash talk some teenagers over a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.