SANTA CLARA, Calif.,--The convergence of technical trends is creating an environment full of innovative ideas, but delivering great products to market takes flexibility, focus, and discipline, said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ilan Spillinger during a DesignCon keynote on Tuesday (Jan 31).
Spillinger, affectionately known as “father of the X-Box," and CVP of hardware and technology at Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, said discipline was probably the most crucial component in producing quality products at high volume, while minimizing total part count and type.
The Xbox, which sports over ,1000 components, was the result of a long term commitment on Microsoft’s part, said Spillinger, the fruits of which have made it one of the top consoles of choice worldwide, with over 66 million units sold and a further 40 million Xbox live subscriptions.
Adding to the Xbox’s success, Microsoft has also managed to sell over 18 million Kinect optical sensors, 10 million of which were sold in just the first three months, winning the Guinness award for fastest innovation to market. Spillinger, however, called the effort “just the beginning.”
Referring to the “transformational trends” rocking the industry, from cloud and social computing to pervasive displays and natural interfaces, Spillinger said the time for embedding sensors into everything had arrived.
“Computing and compute becomes invisible to what we do,” he said, noting that the Kinect had been the first outcome of Microsoft’s efforts experimenting with natural user interfaces (NUI), but that it wouldn’t be the last.
“NUI is becoming more and more pervasive; touch, voice, vision, gestures, and more to come,” he told the audience.
“I’ve seen smell. Your TV might start to smell. When you’re playing first person shooter games, you’ll be able to smell the fire etc., and all of those sensors will make our devices more intelligent and it will impact the way we interact with those devices,” he continued.
Pushing the “Kinect Effect” further, Spillinger said Microsoft planned to take the optical sensor beyond the game console, and bring it to the PC, mainly for B2B use models.
“Corporations will be able to develop their own apps,” he said, noting that the Kinect had seen big interest from industries including both military and healthcare.
Offering advice to other companies who were planning on bringing brand new innovations to market, Spillinger said it was important to stick to internal know hows and have the discipline to focus in and deliver the main part.
“The rest will come, don’t try to throw all your balls in the air at one time,” he advised.
“We focused on our game console, our UI, we overcame the challenges of volume and complexity, and now the rest will come,” he added, concluding that those able to implement Microsoft’s blueprint for design “excellence” would likewise be able to turn science fiction into reality.
I'm glad Microsoft discovered that discipline is important in engineering work. Billions of lines of bloatware later, it became obvious that good code doesn't happen by accident. Maybe the Microsoft culture sees engineers like the rowers in Ben Hur. You just have to keep pounding that drum.
The Kinect was a great leap forward for users. I can't wait to see what will be in the 2nd and 3rd generation devices! There are so many uses that are possible with the basic setup that innovation and creativity will be enabled for some time.