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Microsoft releases Kinect for Windows SDK, hardware already shipping

During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced that the Kinect would be available for Windows begining February 1st of this year. Microsoft has kept to that promise and officially released Kinect for Windows.

“Shipping Kinect for Windows was another cross-Microsoft effort: not only did the hardware and software teams work closely together to create an integrated solution, but our support, manufacturing, supply chain, reverse logistics, and account teams have all been working hard to prepare for today‚Äôs launch,” Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

Microsoft has released the Kinect for Windows SDK and runtime along with the announcement that distribution partners would be working to ship Kinect for Windows hardware. The 1.0 SDK and runtime contain the following new improvements since the beta:

  • 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 will be working to release updates to the SDK and runtime at least two to three times per year. Microsoft even mentioned that they were already working on the next release.

“We are announcing the Kinect commercial program that goes into effect February 1st and with that organizations and individuals are able to harness the power of the Kinect. We have seen during the last few months that Kinect has inspired people to do and create amazing things. Hospitals using Kinect for rehabilitiation, companies using Kinect in assembly lines, organizations using Kinect to train workforce. And we are seeing a lot of support. Companies like Matel, United Healthcare are using Kinect in fantastic ways. We’re hoping to see that companies and people are going to grab kinect and create amazing things that nobody has ever dreamed of,” Microsoft’s Senior Director of Marketing PR, Jose Pinero stated during CES 2012.

Microsoft has suggested that the retail price would be $249, and will offer a special academic pricing of $149 later this year.

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