If you've been following the interesting Kinect hacks that have been popping up all over the internet since Kinect became commercially available, you'll know that there are some pretty impressive uses for Kinect out there. A ton of projects became reality, from Kinect powered AI drones, 3D eyeballs and even motion controlled TVs.
In light of the ease with which people were gaining access to Kinect's inner wonders, Microsoft has moved fairly quickly to officially support those wishing to harness the power of Kinect. A Windows SDK has now officially been announced, which, in lay terms, allows developers to write apps for your Windows machine in C++, C#, or VB.
Engadget simplified the press release on the SDK and gave the following details:
The SDK gives full access to everything the peripheral has to offer, including both cameras (VGA and depth-sensing) and the full microphone array. The former can identify up to six individuals or track the full skeletons for two, while the latter can handle advanced echo-cancellation and even sound triangulation.
To get the full skeleton tracking you're going to need the same sort of setup as on the Xbox 360 -- namely a largish space in front of your computer for you to stand in and plenty of light.
There is no word on official Microsoft developed Kinect apps to accompany any potential third party projects, but I think we can safely assume Kinect will find its way into Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8. Perhaps as an optional extra for Skype, whom Microsoft recently acquired? Also, let's not forget that rather stylish Metro interface that Microsoft teased from a potential touch/(Kinect) enabled version of Windows 8.
You can read more on the new project at the official Kinect SDK project page
Whatever Microsoft plans, it's an interesting diversion in the life cycle of that little black box you either love or hate.