Microsoft Salutes Kinect Enthusiasts with Windows SDK

While Sony's busily plotting to litigate PS3 hackers, it seems Microsoft's getting busy courting them. The company says it plans to release a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit this spring.

That's certainly a turnaround from their initially standoffish stance last November.

[PCWorld's full Kinect review]

According to Microsoft, it's part of their research wing's strategy to embrace application developers by "[making] it easier for academic research and enthusiast communities to create even richer experiences using Kinect technology."

Surprised? Don't be. Steve Ballmer's long maintained the company planned to get in front of Kinect for Windows.

Call it Kinect for Windows SDK, because Microsoft is, and it's coming from Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) and Microsoft Research (MSR), the company's R&D subdivision "dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering."

MSR's home page lists some 800 researchers working in eight locations around the world, including Asia, India, and Egypt. Some of its projects include HD View (a "camera for the web" ), Image Composite Editor (a tool that lets you stitch photos together to create panoramas), and Songsmith, a tool to generate musical accompaniment that matches a singer's voice. All told, they list some 550 projects in the hopper.

What do you get in the starter kit? According to Microsoft, "access to deep Kinect system capabilities such as audio, system APIs, and direct control of the sensor." The company plans to follow with a commercial version of the SDK farther down the road, though how much farther they're not saying.

Kinect for Windows SDK apparently dovetails with Microsoft's Natural User Interfaces (NUI) initiative, which includes Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Surface 2.0, and Bing for Mobile and Office 2010 Mini Translator.

While this probably won't stop hackers from continuing to poke around in the margins, it should increase the volume of "who'd 'a thunk?" motion-control ideas. We've certainly amused ourselves here at PC World collating Kinect hacks the past few months, including 8 Great Kinect Hacks, a Holographic Kinect Hack From a Galaxy Far, Far Away, and our Top 15 Kinect Hacks (So Far).

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