Promising Microsoft Kinect Centre Opens in Austrialia's University of Melbourne

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By Reissa Su | December 6, 2013 4:40 PM EST

Microsoft has partnered with Australia's University of Melbourne in the opening of a new research centre to study the social uses and applications for natural user interface the likes used by Xbox Kinect.

The centre, known as the Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interface Research, was opened on Dec. 5. According to Microsoft, it will be a collaboration that is worth $8 million for over three years between the company, the Victorian government and the University of Melbourne.

Researchers will use the facility to investigate and find new ways to use the natural user interface (NUI) technologies commonly found in Xbox games, tablets and smartphones for social or medical purpose.

Microsoft wants to find other uses of consumer technology developments like gesture and voice recognition, eye movement tracking and other controls using touch and body movements.

According to a statement released by Microsoft, the experts at the centre will explore how consumer technologies can lead to the development of social and collaborative behaviours. This includes studying how people play, learn, work and communicate in various settings.

The newly opened research centre in Melbourne is expected to play a significant role in future research and development projects. Microsoft Research Vice-President Tony Hey said the Melbourne research centre is a world-class facility in a "forward-thinking state."

Mr Hey said Microsoft is passionate in developing "amazing" products and services that help people maximize their potential. He said he is confident that the Microsoft centre in Melbourne will be the gateway to innovating NUI social uses.

University of Melbourne deputy vice-chancellor James McCluskey said he hopes the research centre will lead  to more Australian researchers working with Microsoft to work together in developing new technologies  to change people's lives.

The Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interface Research will house 28 full-time research staff. They will also host other researchers from around the world who are interested in knowing more about NUI.

As part of an agreement with Microsoft, academics and PhD students can do research along with the leading experts in social NUI. They will also be given the chance to visit other Microsoft research centres in countries like Beijing, UK and Washington, U.S.

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