Kinect able to understand American Sign Language? Nope.
Turns out that manufacturing cameras with resolution high enough to recognize fingers (making sign language support possible) is a costly affair. Despite the fact Microsoft had always planned Kinect to sell for $150, producing such expensive cameras would mean losing more money on each unit sold, which would also prove to be a heavy liability should Kinect fail.
In a clarifying statement on the spotted patent, Microsoft told Kotaku: “We are excited about the potential of Kinect and its potential to impact gaming and entertainment. Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to the market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language.”
Look for the more cost-efficient Kinect to be hitting stores in both North America and Europe in November.