Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday confirmed plans to release a special version of Kinect motion sensor, which is currently available for Xbox 360 game console, for personal computers. Microsoft will also work with software developers to design software for Kinect on PCs.
Kinect for PC will be slightly different than the Kinect for Xbox 360 in terms of hardware and software. Details are vague, but Microsoft claims that it had optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios. Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a range of PCs and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision. “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.
The Kinect sensor features an RGB camera, a depth sensor, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. Kinect has the ability to recognize faces and voices. Kinect can perform full-motion tracking of the human body at 30 frames per second. The depth sensor of Kinect for Xbox 360 supports 640x480 resolution.
As part of Microsoft’s deep commitment to natural user interface (NUI), Microsoft designed the Kinect for Windows commercial program to give licensed customers access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking (where Microsoft has been investing for years), in addition to providing fully supported Kinect hardware for Windows.
"We’ve been captivated by the countless creative ways companies worldwide envision how their businesses and industries can be revolutionized with Kinect, and are proud to be helping those companies to explore the profound implications NUI has for the future," said Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows initiative at Microsoft.
Microsoft also has just launched a new initiative, the Kinect Accelerator incubation project run by Microsoft BizSpark. BizSpark helps software startups through access to Microsoft software development tools, connection to key industry players (including investors) and by providing marketing visibility.