Kinect for Windows SDK going commercial in early 2012

Microsoft logoThe Kinect for Windows SDK, a beta version of which is already available to developers, is being prepared for a commercial rollout in early 2012.

The current beta version is targeted at academics, enthusiasts, and researchers who use the motion-sensing capabilities of the Kinect for Xbox 360 technology to create new applications. Kinect apps have already popped up in health care, education, and other industries, Microsoft noted in an announcement today. Despite being designed for video games, the Kinect—which has 600 patents behind it—has moved beyond the gaming world both because of its usefulness and its price: the Kinect lets people buy a device with 3D motion capture, facial and voice recognition, microphones, depth sensors, and an RGB camera for $149.

While the software development kit released earlier this year targets non-commercial projects, Microsoft today said "the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch early next year, giving global businesses the tools they need to develop applications on Kinect that could take their businesses and industries in new directions." Microsoft's announcement did not detail the terms under which the Kinect SDK will be released commercially.

Microsoft officials also discussed the forthcoming commercial SDK with the Financial Times, which details the Microsoft pilot program involving “more than 200 companies for use of the Kinect across 25 industries, from healthcare to education, advertising and the automotive industry.”

For example, Toyota developed a virtual showroom allowing cars to be explored with gestures, and a Spanish technology group called Tedesys is using a Kinect device linked to a PC and monitor, allowing surgeons “to wave their way through patient records on screen during operations,” the Financial Times notes. Microsoft Xbox official Alex Kipman told the paper "12 months from now, educational, academic and commercial applications will look nothing like what they are today."

The Kinect for Windows SDK beta includes drivers, APIs for raw sensor streams and human motion tracking, along with more than 100 pages of technical documentation. It is targeted at developers who use C++, C#, or Visual Basic. Kinect applications are designed to be used in conjunction with Windows 7, and presumably the forthcoming Windows 8 will receive the same treatment.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Kinect, Microsoft

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