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Get ready for a new wave of Kinect applications on Windows PCs. One of Microsoft’s goals at its MIX conference in Las Vegas this week is to get outside software developers dreaming up new ways to use the motion sensor when the company releases a software development kit for Kinect on Windows 7 later this spring, expanding the uses for the device beyond the Xbox 360 console.

Examples at the conference include a version of Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope project that can be controlled with gestures.

Microsoft also released a list detailing the capabilities that developers will be able to tap using the SDK.

  • The latest advances in audio processing, which include a four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation for crystal clear audio.
  • Sound source localization for beamforming, which enables the determination of a sound’s spatial location, enhancing reliability when integrated with the Microsoft speech recognition API.
  • Depth data, which provides the distance of an object from the Kinect camera, as well as the raw audio and image data, which together open up opportunities for creating richer natural user interface experiences.
  • Highly performant and robust skeletal tracking capabilities for determining the body positions of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view.
  • Documentation for the APIs and a description of the SDK architecture.
  • Sample code that demonstrates how to use the functionality in the SDK.

The SDK is for academics and hobbyists for now, but the company plans to eventually make it available for commercial use. Microsoft Research initially cited a release date of May 16 for the SDK release, but later retracted that statement and said the timing is still TBD.


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