Kinect is on its way to Windows with USB connectivity, a close-range camera, and a new initiative to help budding developers.
The Kinect has had a few fun games, but the really exciting Kinect applications have had nothing to do with gaming. A few weeks ago, Microsoft adopted the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude and announced a Kinect for Windows. This PC peripheral is not for games, but for educational, entrepreneurial, and scientific purposes. This developer-centric device will offer USB connectivity, a camera that can track motion at arm's length, a full software development kit (SDK), and a program to give grants and tools to aspiring developers.
Craig Eisler, the general manager for Kinect for Windows, explained the Kinect's new features and initiatives in the Microsoft Developer's Network blog. "[We] have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios," he writes. "Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision." Any gamer who has a Kinect for the Xbox 360 set up in his or her living room knows that you generally have to stand pretty far away for the games to work properly. For reference, 50 centimeters is less than 20 inches - your face is probably more than 20 inches from your computer screen right now.
Developers who want to play with the Kinect should also take note: Microsoft is willing to give you a lot of money. "The Kinect Accelerator [initiative] will give 10 tech-oriented companies using Kinect (on either Windows or Xbox360 [sic]) an investment of $20,000 each, plus a number of other great perks." Eisler does not detail these "other great perks" just yet, but with an improved SDK, $20,000, and a PC-friendly Kinect, a savvy developer could put something pretty cool on the market.
The debate about the Kinect as a viable hardcore gaming platform is still raging in internet forums everywhere, but the device has definitely proven its utility elsewhere. Kinect for Windows is set to launch in "early 2012," so get ready to lean in close to your PC and control things with your mind. What? The brain sending signals to your hands still counts as your mind.
Source: MSDN Blogs