On Wednesday, Microsoft announced more ways for PC developers to make and promote apps that utilize the upgraded Kinect v2 sensor, which debuted with the Xbox One nearly one year ago.
The biggest news came in the form of the first public Software Development Kit (SDK) for the sensor, The free download came after nearly a year of access for "preview program participants," and Microsoft opted to wave fees for the creators of commercial products made with the SDK. That means those creators will have more money to spend on a potential upgrade to Windows 8 or 8.1, which they'll need to use the SDK. (Speaking of Windows 8, Microsoft also opened the floodgates to Kinect v2 app distribution within the Windows Store this week.).
However, up until now, budding developers had to use a PC-only version of the Kinect v2 hardware, as the Xbox One version launched with a proprietary connector to simultaneously juggle data and power demands. In fact, last year, Microsoft went so far as to tell Xbox One owners that they would be out of luck. That changed with this week's retail launch of the Kinect Adapter for Windows, which requires both a USB 3.0 connection to your PC and a wall plug connection for power. The adapter will set budding developers back $50, which is the exact cost difference at the Microsoft Store between the $150 standalone Xbox One version of Kinect v2 and the $200 PC version of the same sensor.
While the official decoupling of Kinect from Xbox One put a damper on hopes for more motion-enabled games on the new console, the PC version's increased resolution and USB 3.0 data transfer speed should unlock a number of design possibilities compared to what budding developers have already cooked up with the original Kinect sensor.