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Kinect, developed by Microsoft, is rather amazing. Thanks to a few cameras and sensors, this Xbox add-on can accurately detect body movements in real time. Thanks to the just-released SDK, which the Redmond company unveiled today, developers will be able to code their own applications for the device connected to Windows PCs, making good for more than just games.

Kinect For Windows

SDK stands for "Software Development Kit": it’s a company-provided way for developers to create software that takes advantage of a particular technology. The Kinect SDK, currently in beta form, will do just that, as Microsoft explained in a press release:

The SDK is designed to empower a growing community of developers, academic researchers and enthusiasts to create new experiences that include depth sensing, human motion tracking, and voice and object recognition using Kinect technology on Windows 7.

This software development kit includes extensive documentation, Windows drivers and many tools that let developers take advantage of features exclusive to Kinect, such as visual and audio tracking. As with most, if not all, Microsoft SDK’s it works out of the box with the company’s own development environment, known as Visual Studio, in a variety of languages, namely C#, C++ and Visual Basic.

Microsoft held an event at its campus to celebrate this release, where developers discussed the many uses Kinect will have outside the gaming world that will now be unleashed:

Ever since Kinect became available in November last year, developers have already figured out ways to give it uses other than gaming. Shortly after the release, third-party open source drivers found their way onto the web. Using those drivers, many third-parties have developed applications that take advantage of Microsoft’s hardware, not only Windows but on Linux as well.

Aaron Gupta, a scientist at Microsoft Research, recognizes the benefit third-party development will bring to the table:

We can’t wait to see what this community will create as we work together to build more natural, intuitive computing experiences.

Microsoft didn’t approve of third-party development at first, but it’s clear it has now realized the true potential of Kinect. With legitimate drivers, and a real SDK, the open-source counterparts will likely come to an end, but the community will always take the credit for truly opening up the technology.

The beta version is available as a free download today from Microsoft’s website. The final version is expected to be available later this year, as a free download as well.

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