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Microsoft Releases Kinect for Windows Hardware, SDK

As promised back in January, Microsoft is now shipping the Kinect for Windows hardware via distribution partners in twelve launch countries. The suggested retail price for the device will be $249, but Microsoft plans to offer special academic pricing of $149 for Qualified Educational Users later this year. Microsoft has also released the Kinect for Windows SDK (v.0) for developers which can be downloaded here.

"Without many years of intense R&D efforts, including research investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, and deep partnership between our research teams, software teams, hardware teams, manufacturing teams, and games studios, Kinect simply wouldn’t exist," writes Craig Eisler, General Manager of Kinect for Windows. "Shipping Kinect for Windows was another cross-Microsoft effort: not only did the hardware and software teams work closely together to create an integrated solution, but our support, manufacturing, supply chain, reverse logistics, and account teams have all been working hard to prepare for today’s launch."

Since the release of Beta 2, the SDK and runtime now features many improvements including support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer, improved skeletal tracking including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor, Near Mode which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device, the addition of the latest Microsoft Speech components, and more.

Eisler said that Microsoft plans to release updates to the SDK and runtime 2 to 3 times per year. In fact, the team is currently working on the next release. "We are continuing to invest in programs like our Testing and Adoption Program and the Kinect Accelerator, and will work to create new programs in the future to help support our developer and partner ecosystem," Eisler adds. "We will also continue to listen to our developer community and business customers for the kinds of features and capabilities they need, as they re-imagine the future of computing using the power of Kinect."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially announced Kinect for Windows' impending release during his final keynote presentation at CES 2012 last month. Recent reports suggest that the company is experimenting with Kinect sensors embedded in mobile devices, but presently the tech is reportedly draining battery charge rather quickly.

With the hardware now becoming available on the market, companies can now begin to deploy their solutions, Eisler said without going into specifics. For those interested in developing for the Windows-based Kinect sensor, you'll need to meet the following hardware and software requirements:

Hardware Requirements
- 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- Dual-core 2.66-GHz or faster processor
- Dedicated USB 2.0 bus
- 2 GB RAM
- A Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor

Software Requirements
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express or other Visual Studio 2010 edition
- NET Framework 4.0
- To develop speech-enabled Kinect for Windows Applications, you must install the Microsoft Speech Platform SDK v11

  • zybch
    Interesting to see what new applications the kinect will be used for in the future.
    Reply
  • jryan388
    It's not compatible with the xbox sensor? Fail >.> Costs 2x as much? Fail >.>
    Reply
  • azathoth
    support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer

    I can hardly even imagine what people may come up with using FOUR sensors in a surround setup!
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    In regards to all the enhancements over the original, I could understand maybe $150, but $250?
    No thanks!
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    jryan388It's not compatible with the xbox sensor? Fail >.> Costs 2x as much? Fail >.>DarkersonIn regards to all the enhancements over the original, I could understand maybe $150, but $250? No thanks!They make money selling the games. So it's easy to sell Kinect for 360 cheaply, because people will buy games for it. The PC version? There AREN'T any compatible games yet! Nor are there really any "regular joe" applications for it. Kinect on PC, whether using a not-so-well-supported Xbox Kinect with beta SDK OR using the new hardware and SDK, is in its infancy.

    As we see more software supporting it, especially game titles, the price will come down. We may also see Kinect-compatible sensor arrays integrated into laptops and monitors. So unless you've got early adopter syndrome, chill out.
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    Good it is time for the era of us having eating Ramen while browsing internet.
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    No thanks. I'll wait until this product is integrated with existing or future webcams. That shouldn't be too far away. The last thing I want is another big box on my desk.

    I do love the idea though of Kinect, maybe moreso for video games, though.
    Reply
  • southernshark
    alextheblueThey make money selling the games. So it's easy to sell Kinect for 360 cheaply, because people will buy games for it. The PC version? There AREN'T any compatible games yet! Nor are there really any "regular joe" applications for it. Kinect on PC, whether using a not-so-well-supported Xbox Kinect with beta SDK OR using the new hardware and SDK, is in its infancy.As we see more software supporting it, especially game titles, the price will come down. .
    Of course the reverse is also true and maybe TRUER. If a product costs a lot and no one buys it then no one will ever make applications for it. You have to have a demand before you get a lot of developer interest. Few people are going to program something so that 5000 people might buy it.....

    To me Microsoft is really screwing up with this by not bringing it out at a lower price point and by not decreasing its size somewhat and by not making it X-box compatible. You add the three together and you end up with stale bread.

    I love the idea of Kinect but at $250.00 I'm going to pass and wait for a 3d party product to do the same thing for 1/3 the cost.
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    alextheblue So unless you've got early adopter syndrome, chill out.
    I dont remember anyone getting particularly wound up. Just annoyed by the price. But if you think its worth $250, then by all means. Have fun with that!
    Reply
  • notsleep
    well, if it comes with software to control my win7 machine, then maybe i'm interested. but if it only ships with the hw and nothing else, not so much. :P
    Reply