Close-up camera key to Kinect for Windows

Kinect

Microsoft reveals development plans for gesture-based PC system

Microsoft has detailed plans for PC-specific Kinect hardware that will let developers create new user interfaces.

The company announced weeks ago that it would launch a programme early next year bringing commercial Kinect services to Windows, but the company has revealed how the motion-sensing device will be adapted for computers.

“Building on the existing Kinect for Xbox 360 device, we have optimised certain hardware components and made firmware adjustments which better enable PC-centric scenarios,” said Craig Eisler, Microsoft's general manager for Kinect for Windows, in a post on the Microsoft blog.

“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.”

Central to the plans for gesture-based input with a desktop are changes to the camera that enable it to register user movement from much closer than the Xbox version designed for the living room.

“Of particular interest to developers is the new firmware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50cm in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40,” Eisler said. “Near Mode will enable a whole new class of 'close-up' applications, beyond the living room scenarios for Kinect for Xbox 360.”

Microsoft also changed the USB interface for the Kinect, including shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across varied computers and a “small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals”.

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