Microsoft Plans PC-Optimised Kinect For Windows

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Windows-specific Kinect hardware could encourage the creation of business applications

Microsoft has confirmed that it will be releasing redesigned Kinect hardware especially for Windows following its release of a commercial development kit last month.

The new technology will feature optimised hardware components and firmware adjustments which Craig Elser, general manager of Kinect for Windows, claimed would allow for “better enable PC-centric scenarios.”

“Beyond the living room”

Kinect, the motion-capture system designed for Xbox 360 games machines used with TVs, will have to change when used with PCs.

Kinect for Windows will enable the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimetres in front of it without losing any accuracy or precision. This is necessary for “Near mode” which will enable a new class of “close up” applications for use outside of the living room.

“This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch,” said Elser.

Other improvements include a shorter USB cable to increase reliability, a small dongle to improve compatibility with other USB accessories and upgrades to the Software Development Kit (SDK).

The Kinect was originally released last year for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 games console in order to tempt some of the more casual audience, attracted to gaming by motion controls popularised by the Nintendo Wii. The controller was a resounding success in terms of sales: 8 million units were shifted in 60 days, making it the fastest selling consumer electronics device.`

The primary focus was on gaming, but the technology was soon hacked for other uses, something that Microsoft initially disapproved of, but eventually encouraged. Microsoft believed that the Kinect could be used for academic purposes and business applications and announced plans to release an SDK for developers and researchers.

Microsoft described the development kit as giving “global businesses the tools they need to develop applications on Kinect that could take their businesses and industries in new directions.”

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