SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft has announced that a redesigned Kinect gaming sensor will be launched specifically for Windows.
The Kinect has been a sensational hit on the Xbox games console, allowing players to lunge around their living rooms to play games without the need for a physical controller. The question has been whether Microsoft would launch a dedicated Windows version of the hardware or not.
In answer to that question Craig Eisler, general manager of Kinect for Windows said, "The answer is yes; building on the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device, we have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios."
Some changes that Microsoft has been made to the Kinect are a shorter USB cable and more importantly new firmware. The updated firmware will allow the depth camera in the device to see objects at a distance of just 50cm, much closer than the Xbox. Eisler calls this 'Near Mode' and said it will enable a host of new applications for the Kinect.
Microsoft has been working with pilot customers and has found that the close-up mode has been one of the most requested features. This week the firm announced a Kinect Accelerator scheme that will give 10 companies $20,000 each to help develop Kinect applications.
Keen to show that Microsoft is fully behind the project, Eisler said, "As part of Microsoft's deep commitment to NUI (natural user interface), we designed the Kinect for Windows commercial program to give licensed customers access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking."
The Kinect for Windows commercial program was announced in October along with a commercial software development kit (SDK). With all this investment and interest we might be drawing ever closer to a real life Minority Report style situation in Windows. µ
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