Wanted: A Kinect App Store
As promised, Microsoft's making it easy for developers to create Kinect PC apps with a non-commercial Kinect for Windows software development kit.
The SDK provides access to raw data from Kinect's motion sensors, skeletal tracking of one or two people, advanced audio processing (such as identifying a sound source) and plenty of sample code. To show how developers can make their own Kinect apps, Microsoft hosted a 24-hour coding session that resulted in a motion-controlled quadricopter, a virtual orchestra conducted by hand gestures and a video conferencing tool that can identify and zoom in on the speaker.
Just one problem: If you're a Kinect owner who wants to see what the motion-sensing camera can do -- beyond dancing video games on the Xbox 360, that is -- Microsoft still doesn't make it easy to find and download these creative Kinect PC apps.
What's needed is a Kinect app store, but I'm guessing this won't be available until Microsoft releases a commercial Kinect SDK at a later date. Once developers are allowed to monetize their Kinect creations, Microsoft will probably want to create a central repository where people can easily download apps -- and where Microsoft can take a cut of the sales.
But while Microsoft delays on that front, other companies may step in. PC-maker Asus is working on the Wavi Xtion, a motion-sensing camera that uses the same motion-sensing technology found in Kinect, and is seeking developers to create apps. Meanwhile, a company called Evoluce says it will release a commercial SDK for Kinect, Wavi and any other devices with the same technology, using open sources.
Still, Microsoft has name recognition and an installed base of more than 10 million Kinect units. The non-commercial Kinect SDK is a nice gesture to academics and enthusiasts, but it's not the game-changer that a commercial Kinect SDK will eventually be.