Kinect for Windows is now available

It is the fastest selling consumer electronics device with sales figures that outstripped all other consumer electronics according to the Guinness World Records selling a total of 8 million units in the first 60 days. We then witnessed the Kinect Effect as researchers, academics and tinkerers realised the potential of the device to engage with people in a new and natural way. As Alex Kipman, the founding father of Kinect said, ‘if you know how to do something in the real world, you know how to do it in Kinect’s world’. Kinect is making technology disappear so that users no longer need to learn how technology works, instead, the technology is learning how we work. This is game changing stuff.

And now, today sees the launch of Kinect for Windows. This is a new piece of hardware that can be connected to a Windows 7 PC and allows anyone to develop applications using Kinect as the controller. The hardware is available for purchase and the one point oh version of the SDK can be downloaded today from the Kinect for Windows site.

The Kinect for Windows sensor is available in the United States, for a suggested retail price of US $249. You will also be able to purchase Kinect for Window sensors in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. There is also a reduced price of $149 for Qualified Educational Users.

In the three months since Beta 2 was released, many improvements have been made to the SDK and runtime, including:

  • 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

More details can be found here.

What about Mac users?

Sorry, this only works on Windows 7 and Windows Embedded Standard 7. It is also compatible with the the Windows 8 Developer Preview which is currently available as a free download.

Kinect Accelerator Program

There is still time to submit your application for the Kinect Accelerator Program. This is open to both companies and individuals who are looking to take part in an intensive 3 month incubation programme starting in April in Seattle which aims to work with you to build incredible experiences with using Kinect. For full details on the entry requirements and how to apply, see the BizSpark Kinect Accelerator website.

Published by Spooner

Creative Technologist at Microsoft in the UK working in the Developer & Platform Evangelism group, he is at the forefront of emerging technologies being developed across Microsoft and champions their deployment to developers and digital agencies. His work is focused around mobile, the web and Natural User Interfaces.

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