Microsoft will be building a new and improved Kinect hardware device for use with Windows PCs in 2012. Kinect is the motion and voice technology that Microsoft launched as an add-on for the Xbox 360 in response to Nintendo’s Wii. Earlier this year, Microsoft released the Kinect for Windows SDK to let developers build applications on Windows that make use of the Kinect sensor.
Microsoft Kinect can potentially be used as a tool to help the disabled, assist injured or handicapped with rehabilitation,etc. You can check out a cool video of some of the possibilities, termed “The Kinect Effect” here. The video shows some possible applications for Kinect with Windows, such as people playing musical instruments by moving their hands in the air; a surgeon flipping through X-ray images without touching the screen; and a technician remotely controlling a robot that is being used to defuse a bomb. You can check out some more interesting Kinect Effect videos here.
The updated Kinect will feature a shorter USB cable, and a small dongle aimed at improving coexistence with other USB peripherals. Microsoft says these changes will ensure better reliability.
Microsoft will be releasing new, PC-specific hardware that’s tailored for closer interactions; as close as 40-50 centimeters (as opposed to the 6-8 feet for Kinect on the current XBox), called Near Mode, resulting in better resolution and depth. Microsoft also mentioned firmware and optimizations to the sensor to make Near Mode sensitive and responsive.
Microsoft also committed to updates and future support to companies deciding to delve into Kinect for Windows programming. To that end, Microsoft announced a new program called The Kinect Accelerator, that would give developers $20,000, three months free office space, and other perks to build Kinect applications.
This development holds a lot of promise for users not initially foreseen by Microsoft. Can you think of applications that would make the new Kinect even more interesting? Let us know in the comments!