Kinect for Windows Arrives, Engineering Applications Follow
Designers and developers interested in gesture-based interfaces finally got what they’ve been clamoring for from Redmond: Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows commercial sensor unit is now available, and the company has launched a Kinect Accelerator Program designed to encourage small companies to develop business applications using the technology.
The commercial sensor unit only works with gesture-aware apps built with the Kinect for Windows SDK, which can support up to four Kinect units on a single PC and includes a “near mode” that allows the units to see objects as close as 40 cm.
According to Microsoft, 200 companies are already involved in a pilot program to develop commercial applications for the popular motion sensing game interface.
From the press release:
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. As an independent developer, IT manager, systems integrator, or ISV, you can innovate with confidence knowing that you will not pay license fees for the Kinect for Windows software or the ongoing software updates, and the Kinect for Windows hardware you and your customers use is supported by Microsoft.
Almost as soon as Kinect was launched for the Xbox 360, hackers began looking for ways to connect it to a PC (there was even a bounty offered). Some of those hacks were impressive, and had direct utility for designers, architects and engineers. You can see a few of them here, including a 3D scanning app, a system for urban developers calculating building dynamics, and architectural collaboration. (And yes, there’s that lightsaber robot at Standford …)
We’ve covered the potential for new types of interfaces for design programs in Desktop Engineering, along with early efforts to hack Kinect so that it could be used with a PC and for robotics applications. Microsoft announced a non-commercial SDK last year, and hinted at their plans for a commercial version.
In a press conference, Microsoft reps outlined possible uses for Kinect in the workplace, including some apps for industrial scenarios where warehouse workers with bulky gloves, for example, could use motion detection for inventory and work in process tracking.
In addition to incorporating Kinect functionality in new products and systems, designers could potentially utilize the technology in a CAD/CAM scenario — there’s already a Kinect interface for DP Technology’s Esprit software, for example.
Below, you can see a video presentation of the Kinect-based Esprit CAD/CAM interface: