Microsoft readies hobbyist Kinect development kit; promises commercial version later

Microsoft readies hobbyist Kinect development kit; promises commercial version later

Summary: Microsoft Research and the company's Interactive Entertainment Business unit have been working together to build a software development kit (SDK) for individuals who want to build Windows apps that use the Microsoft Kinect sensor.

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Microsoft Research and the company's Interactive Entertainment Business unit have been working together to build a software development kit (SDK) for individuals who want to build Windows apps that use the Microsoft Kinect sensor.

On February 21, Microsoft Research announced plans to roll out a version of this SDK for academics and hobbyists some time this spring (possibly in March 2011). The company is also planning to deliver a version that can be used by those seeking to create commercial apps, but has not provided a time frame for delivery for that update.

Microsoft officials said the coming SDK will give users access to "deep Kinect system information such as audio, system application-programming interfaces, and direct control of the Kinect sensor." Even without an official SDK, developers have been creating a variety of Kinect "hacks" since Microsoft rolled out the sensor in the November 2010.

Microsoft officials also have said they expect that the healthcare industry could become a big consumer of Kinect applications in the coming years. Microsoft officials also promised last year a Video Kinect connector to enable Windows Live Messenger and/or Lync 2010 users to take advantage of Kinect at home. I've asked for an update on the delivery of that connector and have been told Microsoft had no comment at this time.

Microsoft made the announcement about the coming Kinect SDK for Windows at a briefing for select press and analysts known as TechForum 2011.

Microsoft also announced at TechForum plans to create a new lab named for former Microsoft researcher Jim Gray. The San Francisco-based facility will be focused on "developing new kinds of computation, based on tactile and motor experiences," according to Forbes. Microsoft Research architect Jaron Lanier is starting the natural-user-interface-centric lab.

I'll be curious to see what happens around the time Windows 8 is released, in terms of the level of support Microsoft provides as part of its client OS for Kinect. From information that leaked a year ago, it seemed that Microsoft was looking to include some basic facial recognition technologies in Windows 8 itself....

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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9 comments
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  • YES!

    Two words: h*ll yeah! Even though I don't own a Kinect yet, in the future I just might and would love to develop for it. Nothing big, but it would definitely be a good learning experience. So far I am learning OpenGL and would love to learn XNA and DirectX. So why not Kinect?
    statuskwo5
    • Windows Media Center controlled via Kinect?

      @statuskwo5
      Sitting back in your chair never needing a remote.

      It's just a thought.
      John Zern
      • Or with a remote...

        @John Zern If the Kinect sees you leaning forward in your chair, flipping over stuff on the coffee table, it makes the remote beep and flash.
        kidtree
  • Sounds excellent!

    This appears to be the direction MS should be moving: using designers and developers to create breathtaking new user experiences. MS should use these user experiences, along with supporting features to drive innovation, excitement, and growth in the consumer market; then use the new technologies in the business market to do the same in that market, as well as give business users a competitive edge. Therefore software updates no longer have to be boring feature updates: software can enjoy user experience innovation, as well as the most modern distribution, marketing and other forms of support techniques - which should also innovate over time.
    P. Douglas
  • \m/

    I would love an official SDK for Kinect.
    gourab.mitra
    • RE: Microsoft readies hobbyist Kinect development kit; promises commercial version later

      @gourab.mitra

      Right on!
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Microsoft readies hobbyist Kinect development kit; promises commercial version later

    Don't own a Kinect (Don't own an XBox), but I would hands down buy one for my PC.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • You might as well take the plunge

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      I did when it came out. The kids played with it for a little over a week and got bored with the rubbish XBox software, so I went to GITHub and pulled the open source drivers... Much more fun!
      MS are probably planning a series of official pipes between the OS and the Kinect so that it can better integrate with the robotics development stuff that they also started giving away a few years back.
      I dont know whether to be pleased or not. I spent years on the beard and pasty skin, and now apparently nerds are social lol...
      SiO2
  • RE: Microsoft readies hobbyist Kinect development kit; promises commercial version later

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