Initially it was the hackers who were working hard at getting Kinect working with Windows, but then Microsoft said they’d make it all official and released the Windows SDK for Kinect and also started up a big fund for developers to kick start development. While it was great to see all this integration coming for Windows, there was one question… Would the Kinect Sensor be suitable for sitting on your average desk where the user would be sitting very close to it?
Currently the Kinect Sensor doesn’t work too well unless your standing at least 5 feet away from it. Of course this would be an issue if you’re sitting at your desk trying to use Kinect where it would probably be only a foot or two away from you. It just wouldn’t be able to pick up everything properly.
So today Microsoft announced a new Windows friendly Kinect sensor that will fit nice and neatly on our cluttered desktops. This Kinect sensor will be able to focus on objects that are just 50cm from the lens and the hardware is “optimized” for desktop use and the USB cable is shortened.
We’re not exactly sure how it will look though, I’d imagine it might retain it’s current form, but be slightly smaller.
Microsoft has said that it will be coming in early 2012 and Microsoft is also readying commercial license’s for Kinect which will allow developers to sell commercial applications based on Kinect for Windows SDK.
Here’s an extract from the official post on Microsoft’s blog
Since announcing a few weeks ago that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch in early 2012, we’ve been asked whether there will also be new Kinect hardware especially for Windows. The answer is yes; building on the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device, we have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios. 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.
Simple 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. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360. This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch.