Microsoft details plans to open up its Kinect controller for business use

By Tom Warren, on 31st Oct 11 8:13 am with 5 Comments

Kinect plugged into a Windows 7 PC

Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to open up the use of its Kinect software development kit (SDK) for commercial applications.

The software giant originally opened up its Kinect accessory for use on the PC back in June. The original Kinect for Windows SDK beta was aimed at academic research and enthusiast communities to create new experiences using Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 accessory. Microsoft promised a commercial SDK at the time and outlined its plans on Monday to sell a commercial version of the Kinect for Windows SDK to businesses. The software maker is expected to deliver updated SDK bits in early 2012.

Microsoft has been working with over 200 companies during a pilot of the commercial Kinect SDK across 25 industries. Dennis Durkin, Xbox chief financial officer, revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that the key part of Kinect was reducing its cost for mass production. “Once you bring down that price point, all of a sudden it opens up a bunch of new developer opportunities,” said Durkin. Speaking of the potential for Kinect business apps, Durkin added that there will be a number of “killer apps” within their respective fields. Toyota has developed a virtual showroom for its cars and Spanish tech group Tedesys has created an application to allow surgeons to page through a patients records during operations.

Microsoft’s Kinect sensor has been a phenomenal success story for the company. The console accessory sold out across a number of retailers during last year’s festive season and Microsoft smashed its own estimates of 5 million units in 2010 by shipping 10 million devices. Microsoft’s Kinect accessory has also broken a Guinness World Record. Guinness World Records officially named Kinect for Xbox 360 the fastest-selling consumer electronics device, which sold an average of 133,333 units per day for a total of eight million units in its first 60 days between November 4, 2010 and January 3, 2011.

Microsoft launched its controller-less console accessory for the Xbox 360 across the world nearly a year ago. The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar that sits at the base of your TV. The device has an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone which runs proprietary software. Kinect allows for full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition. Owners will be able to interact with games titles using just their body. Pausing TV and fast forwarding movies can be achieved using a mix of hand movements and voice control.

  • Robin Ashe

    I’m definitely eager to see where this leads. It was neat for gaming, and has a few interesting applications, but it really seems to have more use for productivity.

    • J A

      Well, let me give you an idea of where it is heading. You see those future films where people interact with virtual screens, moving stuff around, etc and star trek where you just speak…computer, do this and do that. Just think of the movie; Minority Report. That is where it is going.

  • Po-mo Inc.

    Our company would like to participate in this. Anyone know who we need to talk to?

    • AlokC

      You don’t need to talk to anyone.  Microsoft will announce when they launch the commercial SDK (or you can start playing with the current one to get a head start) and the commercial version of Kinect hardware (at a lower cost).  You can buy the hardware from a Best Buy, Frys etc. and download the SDK to write your apps. You will find some docs on MSDN ( too.   There will likely be a MS logo / validation arrangement too, so that you can test if your app conforms to the requirements.

      In general, it’s pretty simple to develop apps for MS platforms / SDKs.  It’s pretty much open.

  • JimmyFal

    Skype on the XBOX will be a killer killer killer application.