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Microsoft Building New Version of Kinect For Windows PC

Microsoft has confirmed that a special version of Kinect is in the works for Windows PC. The company's Kinect for Windows Team made the revelation on Tuesday in a blog, reporting that the Windows-specific motion controller will build upon the existing Kinect device for the Xbox 360.

"We have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios," said Kinect for Windows general manager Craig Eiser. "Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for."

According to the blog, the firmware will allow the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision. There will also be a "Near Mode" that will enable a new class of "close up" applications that go beyond the typical living room scenario. Other changes include shortening the USB cable to "ensure reliability across a broad range of computers," and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals.

"Another thing we’ve heard from our pilot customers is that companies exploring commercial uses of Kinect want to operate with the assurance of support and future innovation from Microsoft," Eisler added. "As part of Microsoft’s deep commitment to NUI, we designed the Kinect for Windows commercial program to give licensed customers access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking (where Microsoft has been investing for years), in addition to providing fully supported Kinect hardware for Windows."

Just recently Microsoft announced the Kinect Accelerator incubator project headed by Microsoft BizSpark. The company will select 10 tech-oriented companies interested in developing Kinect applications by injecting their project with $20,000, office space and other perks. Applications are being accepted now through January 25, 2012, and at the end of the three-month program, each company will have an opportunity to present at an Investor Demo Day to investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives, media and industry influentials.