Microsoft: Kinect SDK for PC This Spring

Monday Microsoft announced that it's releasing an official software development kit (SDK) for creating Kinect-based applications on Windows PCs this spring. The new toolset essentially supports development by enthusiasts and academic researchers, and cannot be used by developers for commercial products.

"This SDK will be a starter kit to make it simpler for the academic research and enthusiast communities to create rich natural user interfaces using Kinect technology," said Rob Knies of Microsoft Research. "The SDK will give users access to deep Kinect system information such as audio, system application-programming interfaces, and direct control of the Kinect sensor."

News of the new SDK follows recent reports that Microsoft had no plans to release a toolkit for Kinect development on the PC. However the sudden about-face may be due to the growing homebrew community that has found numerous ways to make use of the motion-sensing device, from controlling Mario in Super Mario Bros to surgeons manipulating 3D CT images in midair.

"The community that has blossomed since the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 in November shows the breadth of invention and depth of imagination possible when people have access to ground-breaking technology," said Microsoft's Steve Clayton. "Already, researchers, academics and enthusiasts are thinking through what’s next in natural and intuitive technology."

Following Microsoft’s official announcement, former core member Johnny Lee from the Kinect team admitted that he was the mastermind behind AdaFruit Industries' Kinect hacking contest, claiming it was the best $3000 he had ever spent.

"Back in the late Summer of 2010, trying to argue for the most basic level of PC support for Kinect from within Microsoft, to my immense disappointment, turned out to be really grinding against the corporate grain at the time (for many reasons I won't enumerate here)," he said. "When my frustration peaked, I decided to approach AdaFruit to put on the Open Kinect contest. For obvious reasons, I couldn't run the contest myself. Besides, Phil and Limor did a phenomenal job, much better than I could have done. Without a doubt, the contest had a significant impact in raising awareness about the potential for the Kinect outside of Xbox gaming both inside and outside the company."

In collaboration with IEB, Microsoft Research will release a version of the SDK for commercial use at a later, unspecified date. The "lite" version set for a release this spring will be free to download and use.

  • Stryter
    YESSSS!!! Bring it on!
  • opmopadop
    OMG Microsoft, budding developers WANT to write software that uses your technology. Not a great business move taking this long to release a SDK for PC. And what the hell is that 'non-commercial' crap about?
  • The non-commercial stuff is about Microsoft wanting to be sure that if someone *does* come up with a killer commercial app, that Microsoft can charge them licensing and get a piece of the pie that a few months ago they said they didn't want...
  • christop
    I bet the hacker who opened this up to pc got paid.
  • itchyisvegeta
    This company has not contributed anything worthwhile to the average PC user, since Windows XP. It is about time this company pulls their head out.
  • Pyroflea
    Wasn't there an article talking about how stupid and pointless interfacing the Kinect with a PC is just a month or two ago? Not that I agree whatsoever, just find it kind of funny that that kind of article gets posted, and then MS announces and SDK.
  • vexun11
    I would love to use this for going through media without needing to use my keyboard or mouse and other stuff. Especially with my new monitor :D

    Did they say how long they estimate it would be before it was released?
  • hardcore_gamer
    opmopadopAnd what the hell is that 'non-commercial' crap about?To make sure that there wont be any kinect PC games
  • gm0n3y
    opmopadopAnd what the hell is that 'non-commercial' crap about?That is actually a smart move by M$.
  • This was the best they could do, after being framed by Johnny Lee (one of the developers of the Kinect) there as no need to keep it xbox only, you should check out to see a lot of cool stuff and videos of the hacked kinect for the pc, awesome.