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Industrial internet of things applications, like connected farms, could drive interest in Microsoft’s new Project Kinect for Azure. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft is bringing Kinect back this week at its Build developer conference, but in a very different fashion that the Xbox accessory from a few years back.

The company plans to unveil Project Kinect for Azure later on Monday during Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote address. Like the original Kinect, developed as a motion-sensing accessory for Microsoft’s Xbox business, the new hardware contains several sensors and cameras. But this device is designed to be used with Azure services built around the internet of things.

The hardware package being released through Microsoft’s Project Kinect for Azure, announced at Build 2018. (Microsoft Photo)

After years of talk about the near arrival of the internet of things — the notion that nearly every device we know will likely be connected to the internet at some point — things are actually starting to happen in industrial settings. Nadella spent a fair amount of time during his keynote last year explaining how modern factories are embedding computing and connectivity into their equipment, and connected sensors that detect environmental and capacity changes have become popular in new construction.

It’s not entirely clear what applications will be best suited by Project Kinect for Azure; Nadella is expected to shed more light on the initiative later on Monday. But it was designed to be used in small areas where power efficiency is paramount, and connect to Azure services like machine learning and analytics processing.

In an interview with GeekWire after the conclusion of Microsoft’s interminable keynote address, executive vice president Scott Guthrie said it’s basically the size of a camera with some processing hardware attached. The company isn’t entirely sure what developers will do with it yet; the goal for now is to get it out there and let developers understand how the various Azure IoT services showcased Monday during the event could impact their applications.

Project Kinect is just part of a clear focus on the internet of things and edge computing that Microsoft is expected to showcase this week before thousands of developers at Build 2018, which runs Monday through Wednesday at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

Follow our live blog for real-time coverage from Build.

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