Wired has a fascinating (if a little long) read up about how Microsoft's Kinect hardware
is changing the robotics industry. For a long time, robotics has been held back, not by technology that defines how robots move, but by a lack of understanding of their environments -- a robot that can't "see" or recognize its surroundings won't have any idea where to go. Most solutions to this problem were too expensive or unwieldy to use in a lot of robotics applications.
But the Kinect has made that much easier, providing what's basically a sub-$500 kit that can recognize humans, their movements and almost any other objects around the room. And while Kinect hacks
first began as a push by unofficial open source engineers, Microsoft has more or less made that kind of stuff official
, both by providing developer kits for programmers and by supporting community mods.
So let it be known: Just a few years from now, when Skynet is chasing you down after capturing your loved ones to work in the slave camps, it'll be thanks to Kinect that those robots can see and hunt you while moving across the post-apocalyptic wasteland.