Microsoft has now officially extended its Kinect motion gesture and voice control to the PC. After releasing PC beta SDKs that worked with the Xbox 360 version of the device, Microsoft today launched the official Kinect for Windows product along with the 1.0 version of the Kinect for Windows SDK and runtime files.
As previously announced, the Kinect for Windows device is priced at $249, which is $100 more than the current Xbox 360 version. Microsoft has already said the lower price of the Xbox 360 model is "subsidized by consumers buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox LIVE, and making other transactions associated with the Xbox 360 ecosystem." Microsoft will later sell the Kinect for Windows version for $149 but only for qualified educational organizations.
The 1.0 SDK and runtime files for Kinect for Windows have a number of improvements compared to the previous beta versions. They include:
- 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
Microsoft plans to release major updates to the Kinect for Windows SDK and runtime files two or three times a year.