Kinect is a device that recognizes gestures precisely using a combination of sensors. Kinect for Windows is now available.
Gesture recognition technologies have been attracting a lot of eyes since the time when the Wii came into the industry as a motion sensor gaming console. Now that we have big players like Microsoft pushing their Kinect technology into the industry, the scope of gesture recognition has gone far beyond just gaming.
Microsoft has earlier announced that they will launch a version of Kinect for Windows PC before February, 2012. On 31st January 2012, Craig Eisler, the General Manager for the Kinect for Windows project, kept its word by announcing the launch of Kinect for Windows hardware. Along with the hardware Microsoft has also brought out a revised version (1.0) of the SDK.
What is Kinect?
For all those who do not know much about Kinect, it is a device that recognizes gestures precisely using a combination of numerous video and speech recognition sensors. Microsoft, over the past couple of years has successfully implemented this Kinect sensor as an add-on device for their gaming console, the Xbox. This Kinect device has created a lot of hype in the gaming industry. Many sports and other motion based games are available for this platform.
The Kinect for Windows hardware is launched in 12 countries including the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Japan, New Zealand and Mexico and will be available worldwide in not so distant future. The price of the hardware is $249 which is pretty much high compared to the price of the old Kinect device that worked with Xbox ($130).This device will also be offered at a special academic price of $149 for Qualified Educational Users.
Microsoft has greatly improved the SDK and the device over the few beta development stages which have been out for quite a time now. The major improvements include support for up to four Kinect sensors on a single computer. A new mode called near mode has been introduced which allows the device to track objects as close as 40cm as compared to the Xbox version which tracked only after 50cm. The latest version of Microsoft Speech recognition components has been included in the SDK and runtime apart from the many other API updates and enhancements.
Apart from these major updates some minor changes like to improve skeletal tracking and the ability to choose which user to track, has also been implemented. The development samples provided in the SDK are far more informative. A commercial installer is also provided which can be integrated in the setup of your application to install the Kinect for Windows runtime components on the user’s machine.
You can download the SDK here which allows you to develop applications built with C++, C#, or Visual basic using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.
Microsoft has also stated its future planning to improve Kinect. It states that they have decided to roll updates for the SDK and runtime for about 2-3 times per year. Moreover they are working pretty hard on their testing and adoption programs like the Kinect Accelerator.
Kinect for Windows is Microsoft’s first serious attempt to implement gesture recognition technologies to day to day computing. If this becomes a success, it will definitely change the way we interact with computers. All that is required is sincere effort of the developers who will have to make useful applications based on this platform.