Kinect For Windows Has Arrived

Yesterday the very first official Kinect devices for Windows went on sale in 12 different countries all over the world including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and the US. The initial retail price is $249 and Microsoft announced plans to have a special discounted price of $149 for qualified education users in the near future.

In a blog post over at MSDNCraig Eisler, The general manager for Kinect wrote about the improvements that Microsoft have made in the recent Kinect SDK and developer tools. Version 1.0 of the SDK and Runtime tools are now available to download from here

Some of the improvements that they’ve made in this version are outlined below:

  • Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
  • Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor
  • Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device
  • Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
  • The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer
  • Improved “far-talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy
  • New and updated samples, such as Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, color modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls
  • A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.
  • Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime fixes, and audio fixes
The Kinect sensor for Windows comes with a shorter USB cable and is also more sensitive to movement up close to the camera than the current Xbox 360 Kinect sensors.
Now that Kinect for Windows has shipped, Microsoft have made another step to further unifying all their products and making them all cross compatible. Kinect for Windows currently works on Windows 7 and the Windows 8 Developer Preview. I can see Kinect integrating very well with Windows 8 when it’s finally released and available to the general public.
So if you want to get your hands on Kinect for Windows, head down to your local PC store and pick up a Kinect sensor and get going!


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