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Geeks and Gaming

Microsoft readies Kinect for Windows

November 23, 2011 7:07pm
After seeing its Kinect motion-sensing device do much more than games, Microsoft is building a version of the gadget for computers running its Windows OS.
Kinect for Windows general manager Craig Eisler said the new gadget will a modified version of the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device.
"We have optimized certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios. Coupled with the numerous upgrades and improvements our team is making to the Software Development Kit (SDK) and runtime, the new hardware delivers features and functionality that Windows developers and Microsoft customers have been asking for," Eisler said in a blog post.
He said some changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across computers, and a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals.
But he said a highlight of Kinect for Windows will be a new firmware that enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision.
It will have a "graceful degradation" down to 40 centimeters, he added.
Eisler said “Near Mode” will enable a whole new class of “close up” applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.
"This is one of the most requested features from the many developers and companies participating in our Kinect for Windows pilot program and folks commenting on our forums, and we’re pleased to deliver this, and more, at launch," he said.
Also, he said licensed customers may have access to ongoing updates in both speech and human tracking where Microsoft has been investing for years, in addition to providing fully supported Kinect hardware for Windows.
"We’ve been captivated by the countless creative ways companies worldwide envision how their businesses and industries can be revolutionized with Kinect, and are proud to be helping those companies to explore the profound implications NUI has for the future," he said.
Kinect Accelerator incubation project
Eisler said Microsoft also has just launched a new initiative, the Kinect Accelerator incubation project, run by Microsoft BizSpark.
He said he will be serving as a Mentor for this program, along with a number of other folks from Microsoft.
"BizSpark helps software startups through access to Microsoft software development tools, connection to key industry players (including investors) and by providing marketing visibility," he said.
The Kinect Accelerator will give 10 tech-oriented companies using Kinect (on either Windows or Xbox360) an investment of $20,000 each, plus a number of other great perks.
Applications are being accepted utnil January 25, 2012.
At the end of the program, each company will have an opportunity to present at an Investor Demo Day to angel investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives, media and industry influentials. — TJD, GMA News

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