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Kinect for Windows arrives with "near mode"

Kinect for Windows

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 1 Feb 2012 at 14:40

Microsoft today released a Windows PC version of its Kinect gesture controller.

At the moment, the device only appears to be on sale in the US, although a UK launch is expected. In the US, the hardware is priced at $249 on Amazon or via the Microsoft store. The company has yet to get back to us with UK pricing or availability.

Microsoft defended the price compared to the £90 for the Kinect system for Xbox, saying the console version is subsidised by games purchases and Xbox Live subscriptions.

The Windows version, however, requires Microsoft to invest in "creating a platform that is optimised for scenarios beyond the living room," said general manager Greg Eisler, in a post on the Kinect blog.

"We have chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows, which means that we will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime; these will be available free to developers and end-users respectively," he added.

The beta license of the Kinect software will continue to work until June 2016, letting developers keep using it with Kinect for Xbox 360 hardware. However, Microsoft said developers must use the new hardware and SDK to be able to license apps.

"Although you will be able to download the SDK and use it with an existing Kinect for Xbox 360 for your own, personal development purposes, we recommend using Kinect for Windows sensor in your Kinect for Windows application development, as it is the only sensor optimised for this use," the company said in its FAQs.

As well, the full version includes new features over the beta, such as a "near mode" to make the gesture controls work as close as 40cm in front of the sensor. Kinect for Windows also includes better speech and audio, and improved "skeletal tracking" to make it easier for the sensor to monitor different users.

Windows 8 support

The system is supported on Windows 7, the Windows 8 developer preview, and Windows Embedded-based devices, Eisler added.

"We are building the Kinect for Windows platform in a way that will allow other companies to integrate Kinect into their offerings and we have invested in an approach that allows them to develop in ways that are dependable and scalable," he said, suggesting Kinect could be directly embedded into devices - following reports of an Asus laptop featuring the technology built in.

Microsoft said it will also release a version under academic pricing for $149 later this year.

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User comments

Interesting idea

Hopefully we see something interesting come out of this. Media Center interface controller? Head tracking for flight sims etc?

By JStairmand on 1 Feb 2012

Probably boring ideas, but...

You could use this trigger a screensaver - walk away from your PC and the screens turn off. If it can detect where you're looking on screen it could darken the areas of screen you're not looking at and save energy. It could detect when you're looking at an alarming video on YouTube and you draw back from the screen. Then it would replace it with the message "you seem to be finding this video alarming, do you wish to continue?" It could detect when you fall asleep at your desk and wake you up. I'll shut up now.

By revsorg on 1 Feb 2012


First thing I thought was to use it instead of keyboard. dont know if capable to do.
maybe problem is to display letters.

it could also log you in by detecting your face.

By Tsagaan on 2 Feb 2012

Poker Face?

"it could also log you in by detecting your face"

Not easy to do using a gesture controller which detects movement.

By BornOnTheCusp on 2 Feb 2012

Kinect for Windows

Seems a bit niche product for PC at the moment ... I have it for the xbox and less than 6ft away it spits the dummy out..will this have a lense to fit in a closer area.... Would be useful for me when lying watching TV Shows and can use it like a mouse or give voice prompts. Silly question though have they not ported the XBOX version over have seen people control curtains and lamps using it through a PC.

By akoli on 2 Feb 2012

Too much

At the xbox price I'm almost tempted to buy a Kinect just to try out a few ideas with, a play thing. At the PC price I'd need to justify buying it, which means it won't happen.
And when it hits the UK you know that $249 will translate to £250 or even £300 by the time they've kindly localized (z/s ?) it for us.

By grommetsmall on 3 Feb 2012

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