Microsoft is making available to testers for download on June 16 a beta build of a software development kit (SDK) that enables the company's Kinect sensor to work with Windows 7 PCs.
Today's Kinect for Windows SDK beta, available from http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk, is for non-commercial use only. It is targeted at researchers, academics and hobbyists. Microsoft is still planning on delivering a commercial-use version of the SDK, executives said today, but they are still not saying when that will happen.
The Kinect SDK beta that's available today is not open-sourced (nor are any of its component parts). It runs on Windows 7 PCs only and is available under a custom Microsoft academic license. The SDK supports C++, C# or Visual Basic development via Visual Studio 2010, and is under 100 MB in size. The SDK was developed jointly by Microsoft Research and the company's Interactive Entertainment Business unit.
Last fall, after Kinect initially came to market, some Microsoft execs hinted the company planned to prosecute those hacking the Kinect sensor to make it work with platforms beyond the Xbox gaming console, for which it was designed. But Microsoft execs changed their tune in short order, welcoming those who wanted to experiment with the Kinect platform
To kick-start development with the newly-released SDK, Microsoft invited 35 academics, students and other developers to campus for a Kinect SDK Code Camp. After presenting the attendees with three hours of information about the SDK, Microsoft officials gave them 24 hours to build something using the SDK. Microsoft is broadcasting the results of their work on its Channel 9 site starting at 12:30 p.m. ET today.
The Kinect for Windows SDK includes raw sensor streams from the Kinect cameras and microphone arrays for those who want to access the low-level programming interfaces. It also provides skeletal tracking capabilities for up to two people for those who want to create gesture-centric applications, as well as audio elements that are integrated directly with Microsoft's Speech API (SAPI). The SDK also includes 100 pages of documentation, reusable code samples and code walk-throughs. Microsoft is seeking feedback from the community on the SDK. There's no word on when Microsoft plans to take this SDK out of beta.
"Kinect is just the beginning of our vision for NUI (natural user interface)," said Microsoft Research Distinguished Scientist Anoop Gupta.
Gupta said Microsoft wants to get developers to think beyond entertainment and games as to where Kinect-based applications could make sense. Gupta said he expects to see telepresence/teleconferencing, manufacturing, retail billboard, automotive and lots of other categories to be big among Kinect developers as the SDK moves from non-commercial to commercial.
Gupta noted that by using multiple Kinects, developers can build whole-body representations which, when coupled with Skype's conferencing capabilities, potentially could make for some interesting telepresence/teleconferecing scenarios.
Anyone have plans for a Kinectified Window app that you're itching to build?