As promised, Microsoft has made the Kinect for Windows SDK beta available for download, enabling programmers to create applications for PCs utilizing motion-sensing technology. This non-commercial version of the SDK will give users full access to everything the peripheral has to offer, from the VGA and depth-sensing cameras to skeletal tracking and the full microphone array, and is targeted at any developer willing to give his programs away for free.
"It's just wonderful to unleash the power of Kinect for the PC," said Anoop Gupta, who holds the title of 'distinguished scientist' for Microsoft research. He commented on how the technology moves computing a step closer to an era of more natural and intuitive interfaces, where users can tell computers what to do with voice and gestures.
The company is offering hundreds of pages of documentation and sample walkthroughs to get developers started. They are also having broadcasts throughout the day live on Channel 9 and are taking questions through Twitter (@ch9live).
When the Kinect first launched back in November it took the hacking community mere hours to develop unofficial PC drivers and start toying with numerous alternative uses for the device, showing off stuff like Minority Report-style interfaces and holographic video chat. Microsoft was not amused at first but quickly came to realize that Kinect hacking was a good thing and promised not to take legal action against those who use it for more than just basic gaming.
Microsoft says it plans to release a commercial version for people who want to sell their apps but hasn't committed to a time frame yet. If developers embrace the technology the financial potential for the company could be significant.