What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

Summary: Microsoft has made available the 1.0 version of its Kinect for Windows hardware and software under a commercial license.

SHARE:

Microsoft released for download on February 1 the final bits for the first version of its Kinect for Windows software and began shipping the accompanying sensor hardware.

The Kinect for Windows sensor looks like the Kinect for Xbox sensor. But it is designed to work at closer range and to work with Windows 7/8 PCs. In addition to making firmware adjustments in the new Windows Kinect sensor, Microsoft has shortened the the USB cable and is including of a “small dongle” to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. The Windows version will modify the Kinect depth camera to see objects that are “as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device” without sacrificing accuracy or precision.

The Kinect for Windows software development kit (SDK) and runtime are now available under a commercial license, not just a hobbyist license, allowing developers to create commercial/business applications that make use of the product.

In the three months since Microsoft released Beta 2 of the Kinect for Windows software, the company has fine-tuned it a bit. Here are some of the new features introduced since Beta 2, according to the Softies:

  • Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
  • 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
  • API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
  • Inclusion of the latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) in 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.
  • Improvements in driver stability, runtime fixes, and audio fixes

Version 1.0 of the SDK and runtime are downloadable here. Microsoft partners in 12 launch countries are shipping the sensor hardware for $249 (retail). Microsoft officials said that some time later this year, Microsoft will also make the Kinect for Windows product available for $149 for Qualified Educational Users.

Microsoft is planning to release updates to the Kinect for Windows SDK and runtime between two and three times per year, officials said. According to a report in The Daily, Microsoft also is planning to license the Kinect for Windows technology to Windows 8 PC makers so they can integrate support for the peripheral in their upcoming Windows 8 machines. Microsoft officials have not confirmed or denied the Kinect PC licensing report.

Topics: Windows, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

16 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • without the FOSS muscle

    kinect is DOA outside XBOX
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek

      Wow... get a life.
      danjames2012
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek

      Wow... get a life.
      danjames2012
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek

      Wow... get a life.
      danjames2012
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek

      well you are entitled to your opinion but I think you are wrong. There are many applications in the medical/health and educational industries that have shown that this can be effective for some applications. One example off the top of my head is that I read that the Kinect can be used to recognize sign language input and help people learn and translate sign language.
      bobiroc
      • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

        @bobiroc That child wouldn't know an opinion if it were handed to him to re-type.
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek: Like you'd know what you're talking about. Once Kinect is integrated with new devices the convenience of using voice and motion to contol the computer will become the expectation. People really are looking for a "Minority Report" experience. For desktops it could actually eliminate the need for touch-screens. I can see a whole world of possibilities with this kind of power added to the desktop. But then, your opinion is not surprising given that you are stuck on Linux.
      ScubaDog
      • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

        @ScubaDog I agree that people want that "Minority Report" experience (actually, I thought of Tony Stark's design table in "Iron Man"). However, I'd wonder how strong of a user experience it would be without a truly 3-D display. Don't get me wrong, I like the Kinect and think it would work but I also think that the touchscreen would be a better interface on a PC. (One caveat, though, is that I suspect the Kinect would be less of a power draw meaning a better battery life for laptops compared to its touchscreen counterparts.)

        The question is how rich of an experience can you get with a Kinect when sitting at a desk or table getting ready to check your e-mail or web surfing. That will have to be seen. If it is just a game tool, then I don't think that it will really catch on. If greater interfacing comes as part of it then I might reconsider.
        slaskoske
      • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

        @slaskoske

        I think what you and others are missing is that this is not to replace other methods of input to a computer system such as a touch screen or keyboard and mouse. Sure some of the functionality can overlap with those other methods of input but there are many things a kinect sensor can do that a touch screen, mouse/keyboard cannot do like track your movements and respond to voice commands. I could see this as a innovative presentation tool as well as many practical applications in medical and educational industries. It doesn't mean those other input methods are being replaced all together.
        bobiroc
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @The Linux Geek LOL didn't you say that about the original Kinect. Wow keep up those ever so accurate predictions. Because we need something funny to break up the day. Smoke break over - back to the fry station little boy.
      ItsTheBottomLine
  • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

    It will overall sell a fair # of units in niche and vertical markets, probably with many innovative uses, but definitely will not be a high volume general consumer interest device on the desktop.
    deathjazz
  • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

    "depth camera to see objects that are ???as close as 50 centimeters""
    "depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters"

    So, which is it?
    WayneC369
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @WayneC369
      I'm guessing in general that Kinect will see objects from 50cm away to quite far in the distance (think a shop floor)
      "Near mode" will allow kinect to see people 40cm away but not as much around them (think booth)
      thommck
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      duplicate
      thommck
    • RE: What's new in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows final bits

      @WayneC369
      I'm guessing in general that Kinect will see objects from 50cm away to quite far in the distance (think a shop floor)
      "Near mode" will allow kinect to see people 40cm away but not as much around them (think booth)
      thommck
  • Is it better?

    Is it better in Window 8? Would love to make a test.
    funny5com