Microsoft has begun shipping its Kinect motion-sensor hardware for Windows PCs today and has launched version 1.0 of its SDK for the devices.
Microsoft previously announced it will be bringing the Kinect sensor to Windows PCs in February. It was initially released for the Xbox 360 as a hands-free motion sensor, allowing users to play video games with their whole bodies.
However, the company saw potential in using the device for other features, such as for research purposes and new interfaces. It’s now making the hardware available to consumers with Windows PCs and may even integrate the sensors into laptops.
Microsoft said than more than 300 companies from more than 25 countries, such as United Health Group, American Express, Mattel, Telefonica and Toyota, had joined the Kinect for Windows early adoption programme to use the technology to improve their internal operations and build new customer experiences.
According to Microsoft, version one of its SDK and runtime now has support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into one PC. It also has Near Mode for the hardware, reducing the distance the subject has to be away from the sensor to 40cm.
Skeletal tracking has been improved and developers can now control which user is being tracked by the sensor. There is also an improved “far-talk” acoustic model which increases speech-recognition accuracy.
There is now a commercial-ready installer, making it easier to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components. Microsoft said it will release updates to the SDK and runtime two to three times per year.
The price of the Kinect hardware will be €249, with plans to reduce the price specifically for educational institutes later in the year. The Kinect for Windows hardware has been shipped to Ireland, Spain, the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand.