Kinect for Windows launched today - pause for celebration.
Now that the celebration is over, we can get into the stuff that really matters on the Kinect for Windows front - software. Over on the Microsoft blog, the Kinect team detailed changes being made to the beta 2 SDK that will move the Kinect software up to version 1.0. As previously reported during CES, the retail price of Kinect for Windows is $250 with special academic pricing being set to $150.
The list of features added to version 1.0 really helps to set Kinect for Windows development apart from its Xbox 360 equivalent. People should be able to take the device to new highs with these new features. As an aside, it can be assumed that some of these features will be showing up in Kinect for Xbox 360 dev kits as well.
Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer.
Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor.
Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device.
Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes.
The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer.
Improved “far-talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy.
New and updated samples, such as Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, color modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls.
A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.
Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime fixes, and audio fixes.
Microsoft hopes to release updates to the SDK and runtime two to three times a year. The team is already working on the second update as you read this. They are also continuing to invest in other programs like the Testing and Adoption Program and the Kinect Accelerator. They will continue creating new programs in the future to support their developer and partner ecosystem.
With the amazing stuff people have already put out using the beta drivers, it will be interesting to see what developers do with custom-tailored for Windows software. It’s also safe to assume that whatever the Kinect for Windows team cooks up will make its way to a Kinect for Xbox 360 near you as well.
Related Article: Kinect Star Wars: May The Force Be With Scott Pratt
To see what Kinect for Windows can already do, have a video of Skyrim on PC being controlled via Kinect: