Yesterday a patent application hinted that Microsoft's Kinect would be able to recognize sign language, but Microsoft has announced this technology will not be supported by Kinect.
Microsoft's PR department doesn't explain why it won't be supported, but according to the rumor mill it's because the resolution of the Kinect camera isn't high enough to recognize individual fingers or follow their complicated movements at speed.
"Microsoft files lots of patent applications to protect our intellectual property, not all of which are brought to market right away. Kinect that is shipping this holiday will not support sign language."
According to other sources cited by Kotaku the reason that Kinect can't read sign language is a technological one - the camera resolution is just too low to easily recognise individual fingers or follow their complicated movements at speed.