Microsoft thought it had the next generation of technology control inputs when it first revealed the Kinect motion-tracking camera sensor for its Xbox 360 console. It was a massive sales hit, and Microsoft later launched a version for Windows PCs.
When the Xbox One console first launched, Microsoft added a new and more advanced Kinect sensor that was bundled with every console unit. However, the idea of Kinect being included with the console was not well received by gamers, and Microsoft later stopped bundling the sensor with the Xbox One.
Microsoft finally shut down production of its Kinect sensor for the Xbox One in 2017. However, somewhat unexpectedly, the company revealed Project Kinect for Azure in 2018. This was made for business and enterprise customers and used the same indirect time-of-flight (iToF) depth sensing technology that Microsoft put in the HoloLens 2 product.
Microsoft first started selling the Azure Kinect Developer Kit in 2019. Now, four years later, the company announced today it will be discontinuing the product, with sales ending in October, or while supplies last.
In a blog post, Microsoft didn't offer a specific reason for retiring the device. However it did say it has been licensing its sensor technology to third parties. One of them is Orbbec, and today that company announced it has a suite of products that uses the same iToF that is in the Azure Kinect Developer Kit.
That includes the new Femo Bolt, which is currently set for release in October. Orbbec states:
Customers interested in a solution like Azure Kinect Developer Kit will find Orbbec’s Femto Bolt an ideal match for their commercial deployments. Beyond depth camera and architectural compatibility, it also has a more compact form factor ideal for commercial installations. The RGB camera has been enhanced with HDR capability.
Microsoft says that current owners of the Azure Kinect Developer Kit can keep using it as the SDK will be available for download.