Kinect SDK sign up available, public beta coming this spring

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At its MIX11 conference, Microsoft Research announced that the Kinect for Windows SDK beta is coming this spring. Developers can sign up to be notified of the release at research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk.

The company also detailed three main features:

  • Robust Skeletal Tracking for high-performance capabilities that track the skeleton image of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view
  • Advanced Audio Capabilities, including four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation for great audio; beam formation to identify the current sound source and integration with the Windows speech recognition API also included
  • XYZ depth camera for standard color camera stream access and depth data that indicates the distance of the object from the Kinect camera

You'll be able to take advantage of the following with the SDK, which is intended for non-commercial use when connect to a Windows 7 PC:

  • 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 soundís 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.

When the Kinect first launched back in November, the hacking community embraced it like no other device. At first, Redmond was not amused by the unofficial PC drivers and various hacks that were developed as a result. Microsoft quickly realized that Kinect hacking was a good thing and promised not to take legal action against those who use it for more than just basic motion gaming. Two months ago, the software giant announced plans for an official Kinect SDK. Now we've got a timeframe to look forward to for the beta, as well as a list of promised features.

Five months ago, Microsoft shared that the Kinect had sold 1 million units in 10 days. Later, the company revealed it had sold 2.5 million units in 25 days. Then it announced that it had sold 8 million units in 60 days. Last month, Microsoft confirmed it had sold 10 million units and that Guinness World Records had officially named Kinect the "fastest-selling consumer electronics device."

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