A smarthome crammed with gadgets that can talk to each other is great. But without Jedi-like gestures to control it all, you're really missing a trick. Not for long though.
Microsoft Research has managed to create a modification to normal smartphone cameras and webcams that allows them to depth sense. Like the Kinect they will be able to pick up on detailed hand movements and facial expressions.
This means you could modify any gadget to respond to gestures. Technically you could have cameras all over the house so your movements work everywhere. Combined with voice controls, over smartwatch say, you could have yourself a home to rival Iron Man's.
The cameras work, after a little modification, by picking up infrared light which, combined with algorithms, show depth. In the demo video accuracy appears high enough to draw in the air with a finger and have it picked up, or pinch hands mid-air to zoom on screen. And since it's infrared the variations of normal light in a room shouldn’t affect it.
Another team developed an RGB 3D camera which could be used for 3D modelling objects from the real world for 3D printing copies or variations of them.
When or if this kit will come to market isn't clear. But with Intel already showing off its 3D RealSense cameras, that it plans to sell built-into laptops soon, we'd imagine Microsoft is eager to get involved.