Microsoft is enlisting Kinect, the company's sensor and voice-control technology, to help its forthcoming "Surface Mini" tablet stand apart from the competition.
In a post appearing in WP Dang, a Chinese technology Website with a history of unearthing the software giant's secrets, it's reported that Microsoft is still working on a smaller version of its Surface tablet. In April, following rumors of an Xbox-themed Surface Mini, The Wall Street Journal reported that the "software giant is developing a new lineup of its Surface tablets, including a 7-inch version expected to go into mass production later this year, said people familiar with the company's plans."
That timetable has been pushed back, the new leaks indicate.
Citing details posted on the Chinese Website, Boy Genius Report's (BGR) Chris Smith wrote: "The Surface Mini will be launched in 2014 and feature an 8-inch display with full-HD 1080p resolution and an Intel Bay Trail processor under the hood."
Intel's Bay Trail Atom processor technology, launched in Sept., closes the energy-efficiency gap between the company's chips and those based on ARM's designs, which currently dominate the mobile device market for smartphones and tablets, including Apple's popular iPad and Microsoft's own Surface RT.
The leaks point to a smaller version of the Surface Pro and Pro 2, both of which are powered by Intel x86 processors and run the full, non-RT version of Windows 8. And in some respects, the new smaller Surface may leapfrog its full-sized cousins.
BGR indicates that Microsoft's Kinect gesture technology will inspire some of the device's advanced functionality. "The Surface Mini will be able to recognize the face of the user, as well as hand movements, which would be used to trigger certain actions," said the report. Current Surface tablets lack those features.
Kinect's facial-recognition capabilities enable users to log in as Xbox One users by simply facing the sensor bar. Gesture support on the Surface Mini "will work better than Samsung's "Air Gesture" feature that's available on the Galaxy Note 3," added Smith. Air Gesture support on the Galaxy S 4 smartphone was found to be hit-or-miss by reviewers.
Microsoft is late to the small tablet craze. Apple, which entered the market belatedly in 2012, has found success with its iPad Mini. A year later, the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker released its successor, the iPad Mini with Retina Display that packs essentially the same power as the bigger iPad Air into a more compact package.
On the Android front, Microsoft will face off against several nearly pocketable slates like Lenovo's affordable Yoga tablet, which is available in an 8-inch version that is priced at $249. The company will also likely compete against the ever-evolving Google Nexus, Amazon Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab product lines.