Kinect laptops raise one big question: how useful are they, really?

The Right Click

During CES, the tech world perked up at the news Microsoft's Kinect would be coming to a home PC near you. Now, it looks like it could be near you wherever you go: consumers may soon be seeing Kinect-enabled laptops, too.

But once the initial excitement of waving at your computer in public places wears off, the usefulness of a motion-controlled laptop is called into question.

The Daily reports that it had the chance to go hands-on with a pair of these Kinect sensor laptops, still in the prototype stage. According to The Daily, a source at Microsoft has confirmed that the devices are official prototypes for Kinect-enabled laptops. These portable devices are more likely to come from developers and OEMs than from Microsoft itself, though, if Wired's speculation on the issue is correct.

The prototypes that The Daily used appeared to be "Asus netbooks running Windows 8, feature an array of small sensors stretching over the top of the screen where the webcam would normally be. At the bottom of the display is a set of what appear to be LEDs," according to the story.

After learning about these laptops, however, CNET asked a very valid question: who's going to use this?

Gaming and navigating between programs are two obvious ways that this technology could be used, but that isn't necessarily enough to get people to pick up a Kinect-enabled laptop. As CNET points out, accuracy has often been an issue with Kinect on the Xbox 360, so using it on a laptop could end up frustrating. Imagine trying to do work with motion controls while commuting, for example: bumps and jostles on a train ride would force users to revert back to their mouse.

There is hope for the technology, though. Other companies who are already working on close-range motion control for computers, like SoftKinetic, can work as close as 5.9 inches away. Users will have to wait and see exactly what happens with the Kinect for Windows technology, though. It's tied to Windows 8, and we'll start seeing Windows 8 notebooks and tablets rolling out in the middle of this year.

(Screengrab from