Microsoft revealed on Tuesday that it’s planning to release new Kinect hardware especially for Windows.
The new Kinect for Windows hardware will be made available in early 2012 and contains optimised hardware components for PC scenarios. “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,” said Microsoft’s Kinect manager Craig Eisler in a blog post on Tuesday. “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.”
Microsoft is planning to shorten the USB cable to ensure reliability across a range of computers. The company will also include a small dongle to help ease coexistence with other USB devices. The new firmware updates for the Kinect will enable the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimetres in front of the device without losing any precision. Microsoft calls this “Near Mode” and the company hopes it will enable a whole new class of “up close” apps that have not been made available previously. “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,” said Eisler.
Microsoft’s Kinect hardware improvements follow the launch of Kinect Accelerator program last week. The competition will see ten finalists receive an investment of $20,000, an Xbox development kit, the Windows Kinect SDK, office space, all the resources of BizSpark, and technical training and support from Microsoft. The three-month incubation program will run from March to May next year at Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington.
Microsoft is planning to launch a commercial version of its Kinect for Windows SDK in early 2012. Microsoft launched its original Kinect for Windows SDK beta back in June, aimed at academic research and enthusiast communities to create new experiences using Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 accessory. Microsoft launched its own dedicated Kinect for Windows site earlier this month, alongside an updated beta 2 of the Kinect SDK. The updated beta 2 SDK marks a year of Kinect and includes some new features and updates.