In a November 22 blog post, Craig Eisler, General Manager for Kinect for Windows, officially confirmed that the company will be producing Kinect hardware specifically designed for Windows.
"(Y)es; building on 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 blogged.
Adding Eisler said "Simple changes include shortening the USB cable to ensure reliability across a broad range of computers and the inclusion of a small dongle to improve coexistence with other USB peripherals. Of particular interest to developers will be the new firmware which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 50 centimeters in front of the device without losing accuracy or precision, with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters. "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."
Eisler also said that as part of Microsoft's deep commitment to NUI, "we designed the Kinect for Windows commercial program to give licensed customers 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'."
Adding, Eisler writes that the Kinect Accelerator incubation project run by Microsoft BizSpark "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 now through January 25th, 2012. At the end of the Kinect Accelerator program, each company will have an opportunity to present at an Investor Demo Day to angel investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives (including me), media and industry influentials."
In other Xbox news, Microsoft announced that the official release date for the update for all Xbox LIVE members will be Tuesday, December 6th.
In this update, free to all console owners, you will see:
- New personal and social features including Cloud Storage for Game Saves and LIVE Profile
- Beacons and Facebook Sharing
- Enhanced Family Settings
- Integrated voice and gesture controls across the dashboard and in apps
- Bing voice search (Available this year in the US, UK and CA)
In addition to all these great dashboard features, starting on December 6th and continuing on an ongoing basis through the holiday months, a wealth of new content will be coming to Xbox 360.
New, customized applications for television, movies, internet videos, sports and music will begin rolling out from world-leading providers in more than 20 countries.