Microsoft had a huge consumer hit with its Kinect add-on controller for the Xbox 360 games console, and it was rapidly adopted by hobbyists, academics and researchers working outside the games business. In particular, it was obvious you could use it to create something like the gestural interface in the movie, Minority Report, and someone created a virtual air guitar. Instead of trying to clamp down on all that, however, Microsoft encouraged it. Now it's planning to take the next step, and push the Kinect for commercial and business applications. It will launch a Kinect for Windows commercial software developer kit (SDK) early next year.
In a blog post today -- Feeling the Kinect Effect -- Microsoft said: "We recognize the intense commercial interest in harnessing the capabilities of Kinect, and are working with a wide range of companies and developers to create a great set of tools and APIs. In fact, our commercial pilot program has already received more than 200 applications from top companies in more than 20 countries spanning 25 unique industries, eager to explore the possibilities of Kinect beyond Xbox 360!"
It's not known how much the commercial SDK will differ from the current Kinect for Windows, which is for non-commercial use only. However, any companies interested in exploiting Kinect might find it useful to experiment with the beta. This was launched on June 16 and runs on Windows 7. Features include Raw Sensor Streams, Skeletal Tracking (used to create gesture-driven applications), and Advanced Audio Capabilities, including "integration with the Windows speech recognition API".
Kinect at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Photo credit: Microsoft
Applications include a Tedesys system that allows surgeons in Spain to gesture their way through patient records during surgery, their use for rehabilitation exercises at Royal Berkshire Hospital, and a virtual showroom for Toyota cars. Another Kinect hack enables a supermarket shopping cart to follow a disabled user's wheelchair.
It would cost a company tens of thousands of pounds to develop its own system comparable to Kinect, but high volume manufacturing for the console games market has brought the price down to about £100.
Kinect can work like the movie, Minority Report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlLschoMhuE