Microsoft Corp. this week rolled-out its new version of Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK). The new version of SDK brings support for Windows 8 operating system and virtual machines, improved developer tools as well as extended sensor data access.
Kinect for Windows is slightly different than the Kinect for Xbox 360 in terms of hardware and software. Microsoft added support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer, improved skeletal tracking (developers can control which user is being tracked by the sensor), increased speech recognition accuracy and others. 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.
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 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.
From now on, the Kinect for Windows SDK brings extended sensor data access, in particular:
- Data from the sensor's 3-axis accelerometer is now exposed in the API. This enables detection of the sensor's orientation.
- Extended-range depth data now provides details beyond 4 meters. Extended-range depth data is data beyond the tested and certified ranges and is therefore lower accuracy. For those developers who want access to this data, it’s now available.
- Color camera settings, such as brightness and exposure, can now be set explicitly by the application, allowing developers to tune a Kinect for Windows sensor’s environment.
- The infrared stream is now exposed in the API. This means developers can use the infrared stream in many scenarios, such as calibrating other color cameras to the depth sensor or capturing grayscale images in low-light situations.
- The updated SDK used with the Kinect for Windows sensors allows for faster toggling of IR to support multiple overlapping sensors.
In addition, Microsoft said that Kinect Studio has been updated to support all new sensor data features and skeletal tracking is now supported on multiple sensors within a single application.