I think the key here is the Kinect visual-based motion sensor--a picture is worth 1000 lines of code? It's analogous to talking to your computer. They are both much more natural ways of interacting with machines, at least from the human perspective.
The Kinect approach is definately an important one for machine control. It is also most like human vision. I have seen, over many years (decades) the attempt to create autonomous vehicles and machines. They often use exotic sensors. Lately, though, there have been articles about using a Kinect system to drive these. The vision system is often coupled with a database or model of the scenario. This is much like what we humans do. Factory robots are starting to use some of this technology as well. This is a lot like the small robots that mimic insects, or other creatures. Mimicing humans may be the way to go here as well.
Very cool project. It's really interesting how widespread an impact gaming technology is having on so-called "serious" development, from robotics to CAD software. Kinect-like interfaces are popping up in a variety of different platforms and will push the envelope in terms of helping people interact with previously pretty inaccessible technologies.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.