The Kinect for Xbox 360 has certainly been a huge success for Microsoft – becoming the fastest-selling consumer electronics devices ever – so it was a no-brainer that the company would open it up to other platforms.
Microsoft has launched the official Kinect for Windows SDK (beta) which can be downloaded here. The official SDK comes months after people had hacked the device and used it to come up with some ingenious applications using their PCs (some of the best you can see in the video below). Microsoft is opening up the platform to academic and enthusiast communities to give them easy access to the capabilities offered by the device connected to computers running Windows 7. Obviously Microsoft had to take this move considering the number of unofficial hacks appearing within days of the Kinect going on sale. Currently the SDK can only be used for non-commercial purposes, but Microsoft said there will be a commercial version in the future.
The SDK includes drivers, rich APIs for raw sensor streams and human motion tracking, installation documents, and resource materials (100 pages to be exact) as well as tutorial videos. It will give developers access to the raw data streams from the Kinect's depth sensor, colour camera sensor and four-element microphone array enabling them to build upon the low-level streams that are generated by the Kinect sensor. Developers will also access to the Kinect’s capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view making it easy to create gesture-driven applications. As regards audio, the SDK includes sophisticated acoustic noise suppression and echo cancellation, beam formation to identify the current sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API. All-in-all this release gives developers pretty much carte blanche to do what they like with the Kinect and should hopefully lead to some interesting implementations.
Mircosoft will be hoping that the Kinect will no longer be seen simply as a games accessory and will become a much more mainstream technology with a huge variety of uses.
Source: Kinect For Windows