Today, Microsoft released a software developer kit (SDK) in beta for its Kinect product for the Windows 7 operating system, effectively meaning that software developers will be able to harness the capabilities of Kinect for use with personal computers running Windows, as opposed to just the company's Xbox gaming and entertainment platform.
"With the release of the SDK today, we're looking forward to another wave of creativity from academic researchers, developers and enthusiasts as we bring natural user interface (NUI) development to everyone — in fields far beyond gaming and entertainment," says Steve Clayton on the Official Microsoft Blog.
"This is only the beginning in our commitment to deliver an SDK to the community," says Clayton. "Microsoft’s vision of the natural user interface is that interactions between people and computers will ultimately become invisible – computers will understand peoples’ gestures, listen for their voice commands, even interpret and respond to their expressions and inflections in voice."
"In short, computers will become better equipped to anticipate what people want, and proactively address those wants, rather than passively awaiting commands," he adds. "There is more to come, including a commercial SDK that is geared toward enabling independent software vendors (ISV’s) and businesses to develop commercial applications."
The SDK itself includes drivers, rich APIs for raw sensor streams and human motion tracking, installation documents, and resource materials. It includes the capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view, which can be used for gesture-driven applications.
It even has advanced audio capabilities, including acoustic noise suppression and echo cancellation, as well as integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
The SDK was intended for computer scientists, scientific researchers in academia, and technical enthusiasts, but it is available to anyone to use for their personal programming interests. It is worth noting, however, that Microsoft's terms do not allow you to create anything with the SDK Beta for use in your business operations.
Xbox Kinect applications can't be ported to Windows with the beta.