Ready for some mostly unsubstantiated rumors about the next generation Kinect system? According to the Eurogamer blog (who cites a "development source" at Microsoft), the Kinect 2 will feature a bunch of upgrades which could allow creative roboticists to do all kinds of awesome new stuff.
The current Kinect is limited in both frame rate and resolution by the amount of data that it's allowed to push back through its USB controller. Kinect 2 will allow for much greater data throughput, whether it's using a beefed-up controller or an entirely new interface like USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt:
"It can be cabled straight through on any number of technologies that just take phenomenally high res data straight to the main processor and straight to the main RAM and ask, what do you want to do with it?"
What do we want to do with it, you ask rhetorically? What don't we want to do with it? Let's see, how about lip reading? Yes, supposedly Kinect 2 will do that. It will also supposedly be able to detect which direction people are facing and track the pitch and volume of their voices and match them with facial characteristics to measure different emotional states.
While the sensor upgrades incorporated in the Kinect 2 will potentially offer much better SLAM and human tracking, some intriguing possibilities come up when you've got a self-contained plug n' play system that can do emotion recognition. You've got plenty of time to think up creative ideas, since we're probably looking at a 2012 unveil followed by a 2013 release. That is, we're looking at it if you believe all this, and there's no reason you should, except that it's kind of fun to get excited for no reason. Yay!