What's coming in Microsoft's Kinect for Windows 1.5

Microsoft plans to release the 1.5 version of its Kinect for Windows software in late May 2012.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is readying a 1.5 release of its Kinect for Windows product for late May that will add a new app for developers to help them debug their products based on recorded user interactions.

That's according to a March 26 post on the Microsoft "Kinect for Windows" blog from Craig Eisler, the general manager of the product.

Eisler said the 1.5 release will add a new app called Kinect Studio "that will allow developers to record, playback and debug clips of users engaging with their applications." The 1.5 release also will feature "seated," or "10-joint" skeletal tracking, which will add the ability to track the head, neck and arms of either a seated or standing user that will work in both default and near mode.

The 1.5 update will add four new languages for speech recognition – French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese -- as well as language packs to enable speech recognition for languages spoken differently in different regions (like English/British English).

Eisler said Kinect for Windows will be launching in 19 more countries in May and June, including Hong Kong, South Korea,  Taiwan, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Microsoft made the 1.0 release of Kinect for Windows software and sensor available in early February 2012. The Kinect for Windows sensor looks like the Kinect for Xbox sensor, but 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 available under a commercial license, as well as a hobbyist license.

Speaking of Kinect (on the Xbox side of the Empire), Microsoft made available on March 27 Kinect-enabled Comcast Xfinity, HBO Go and MLB TV apps on its Xbox Live service.

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