Last week brought a hands-on report by The Daily claiming two prototype Windows 8 netbooks from Asus with built-in Kinect sensors were out in the wild. Now a week later, the site reports that Asus wasn't directly involved with those two prototypes, but there's still a good chance the manufacturer will be one of the launch partners given that it's already a partner with PrimeSense, the Israeli developer responsible for Kinect's 3D motion-sensing hardware.
Since last week, The Daily has learned that Microsoft is in fact licensing out Kinect technology to manufacturers like Asus, but the catch is that they can't use other motion-controlled tech in their devices. There are also more prototypes out in the field than the two seen last week, reportedly used in coffee shops and bars so that the sensors can be fine-tuned in noisy, crowded environments.
So far the drawback to Kinect-based mobile devices (namely laptops, netbooks) is that the technology consumes a lot of power. According to the report, the prototype devices must be plugged in whenever possible. One solution may be that Kinect will need to be an add-on peripheral with its own power supply and/or rechargeable battery pack, especially on netbooks and notebooks with smaller batteries.
On the software front, Microsoft will reportedly allow manufacturers to customized Windows 8 on Kinect-based devices much like smartphone manufacturers can customize Google's Android OS to their liking. There's also an app currently in use on prototypes called "log me in" which uses the Kinect hardware to analyze both the user's face and voice when he/she sits in front of the device and speaks the password. If both face and voice match, then the user is granted access.
As revealed earlier this month during CES 2012, Microsoft will release the Kinect for Windows SDK to developer tomorrow, February 1. This means Kinect drivers and APIs will be available to both commercial software developers and the general public. Microsoft said it's currently working with more than 200 companies to build applications for Windows that take advantage of Kinect's technology.
"We are building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings and we have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable," said Craig Eisler, General Manager, Kinect for Windows.