June 17, 2011

Kinect SDK Now Available

On Thursday, Microsoft Corp's popular Kinect motion-sensing controller for the Xbox 360 was made accessible to software developers who could use the software behind the technology to develop a wide array of "hands-free" features for PC standards, reports Reuters.

The test version -- Windows Software Development Kit -- is Windows-7 compatible and Microsoft is hoping it will open doors for computer programs enhanced with depth-perception, voice recognition, and even gesture controls using the Kinect accessory.

Microsoft's Kinect is a sensing camera and microphone device that allows users to play video games with body gestures and voice commands. The device has been seen by many as a blueprint for the future of computing, and hackers were hugely interested in finding ways to make the device work on standard computers.

Microsoft at first was aggressively against such attempts, but by releasing a beta version of the Kinect software kit the company is showing that it is in fact interested in seeing where developers can take the technology.

"We are looking at taking the Kinect out of the game space a bit and putting it in other spaces," Halimat Alabi, a developer who attended a 24-hour Kinect coding marathon at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, told AFP.

The software kit, currently available for noncommercial use only, can be downloaded at http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/kinectsdk/.

Last week, Microsoft also added YouTube, voice commands, TV shows and more to the Xbox 360 with Kinect, aiming to make the popular console an entertainment hub for all.

Microsoft added more voice capabilities to allow Xbox users not only to give commands to in-game characters but also to speak Bing searches for games, movies, music and more.

More than 10 million Kinect devices have been sold for the Xbox 360 globally since it debuted in November 2010.

Microsoft envisions Kinect moving beyond the confines of the living room and into medical centers, schools and other places where technology that tracks body movements and recognizes voices could be very useful.