Beyond Xbox – Microsoft releases Windows SDK for Kinect

17 Jun 2011

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A whole universe of potential awaits Microsoft’s breakthrough Kinect technology. The company has launched a free Windows SDK that includes drivers, API, device interfaces, installer documents and resource materials.

What this effectively means is anyone with the skills and the imagination can create applications with the Kinect technology that go beyond the Xbox 360 console.

“With the release of the SDK today, we’re looking forward to another wave of creativity from academic researchers, developers and enthusiasts as we bring natural user interface (NUI) development to everyone — in fields far beyond gaming and entertainment,” Microsoft Research’s Steve Clayton said on the official Microsoft blog.

Microsoft revealed in April that it intended to bring the Kinect technology to Windows 7 devices.

Beyond gaming, beyond entertainment

He said that for the last 24 hours, Microsoft has been holding a Code Camp at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters, challenging software developers to test the limits of their imaginations using the skeletal tracking system and the Kinect sensor’s control.

The University of Oregon has, for example, discovered a way of using the Kinect sensor to control a remote-control helicopter via physical gestures.

“Microsoft’s vision of the natural user interface is that interactions between people and computers will ultimately become invisible – computers will understand peoples’ gestures, listen for their voice commands, even interpret and respond to their expressions and inflections in voice.

“In short, computers will become better equipped to anticipate what people want, and proactively address those wants, rather than passively awaiting commands. There is more to come, including a commercial SDK that is geared toward enabling independent software vendors (ISVs) and businesses to develop commercial applications,” Clayton said.

The Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360 is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in the world, having reached 10m sales in just a couple of months. Sales of the controller have outstripped those of the iPhone and iPad in terms of comparable periods and it has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Photo: Oregon State University student Alex Wiggins gestures to Kinect, which in turn makes a remote-control toy helicopter take off

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com